Thursday, September 28, 2023

The important things to know about pricing Affordable Art

The really important things to know 

about pricing Affordable Art

There are two things you need to know about pricing affordable art.

The first is that what the PUBLIC think is "affordable" is the only game in time.
It's emphatically NOT what the artists or the art galleries and art fairs think it is.
That's because they're trying to make money for themselves so they have a huge incentive to call it "affordable" but then pitch the price high!

The second is that it's the PSYCHOLOGICAL VALUE of a number that really matters. A poll I ran revealed that
  • Between 64-70% would buy art up to 500 (of whichever currency)
  • Between 70-91% would buy art up to 1000 (of whichever currency)
  • ONLY 9-10% would contemplate buying art above 1000 (of whichever currency)
The important thing is to identify what are the key hurdle prices which change behaviour. It's akin to the notion that you should always price just below an important hurdle price rather than just above.

Why I got interested in the price of affordable art

I became very interested in the concept of affordable art - and its pricing - back in 2010 (post the banking crisis of 2008 and what followed).  

This was a time when a lot of art galleries were closing - mainly because people were not buying and/or because the people who ran the galleries were not good business people and/or they had no concept of risk management and made no provision for a difficult economic context

The main reason for my interest was that artists were trying to sell in a difficult economic context and kept getting their pricing wrong which meant their sales were also plummeting.

They very much needed to understand 
  • what was deemed "affordable" and would still sell.
  • what were the key hurdle prices within the range they considered affordable.
  • how to avoid shooting themselves in the foot due to poor pricing practices.
We've now had 12 months of a very difficult economic climate with inflation and significant interest rate rises. It's not coming to an end any time soon - even if it has improved somewhat. We are still a long way adrift from where we were two years ago.

Bottom line - we are now back in the same territory as 2010 and the same issues and questions apply re. pricing.

What is an affordable price?

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

What is "Affordable Art"?

This is a discussion for artists, art galleries, art fairs and art dealers - over three blog posts today, tomorrow and Friday - about:

  • What is "affordable"?
  • What is Affordable Art and how is it defined?
  • How to price Affordable Art - the really important things you need to know - find out:
    • who determines what is affordable
    • why people attach importance to specific numbers
    • what are the big price hurdles and 
    • how they can vary between countries
  • The importance of the minimum price to sales in open exhibitions
These all point in the direction of more information on this very important topic for all those trying selling art in a difficult economic context - particularly all artists, art societies, art fairs and art galleries.


What is "affordable"?

"Affordable" means something different to everybody, 
but generally means 'not expensive' relative to income
and can vary over time, place and economic context

It's a concept which relates to a very wide variety of products and services. 

"Affordable" is emphatically not the same as "cheap"
Very often it means
  • the price that people can "afford to pay" for a non-essential / discretionary good or service using any surplus income....
  • AFTER other necessary / essential demands on their income have been covered 
  • BUT it also depends on 
    • how financially secure they feel; and 
    • How big a financial 'buffer' they feel they need - and how much is left over for discretionary spending - and hence what feels "affordable"

The importance of substitution within the economic context

What seems very affordable in one year can look much too expensive in the next IF essential demands on income have increased (eg mortgage interest rate rises; inflation rate increases)

In this context, people can still have budgets which allow some spending - but not so much as before. Which means "affordable" can have moving goalposts.

Practical examples include:
  • people still have treats - but they are maybe not as big or as expensive (equivalent to still buying art - but at lower prices)
  • people take staycations rather than holidaying abroad because they are deemed more affordable. ( equivalent to people buying art online rather than from galleries because it's a popular thing to do - and also because nobody needs to know you used to buy more expensive art elsewhere)

What is "Affordable Art" and how is it defined?

In the context of art, very rich people are still very rich and can still afford to buy expensive art. But this is utterly irrelevant for most players in the art marketplace.

In my view (and from observation), in a time of economic difficulty, something usually happens within the vast numbers of people on "middle incomes" who like art and have bought it in the past
  • People who have bought expensive art in the past can 
    • start trading down and 
    • start buying more affordable art when they are feeling the pinch. 
  • They're still buying art - but just not spending so much. 
    • So they buy less (reduced sales)
    • or they buy at lower prices (changing the range of prices they're happy looking at)
Plus let's not forget, many artists who sell their "more affordable" art online commented that they made MORE money during the pandemic than they had ever done because people had the money spare for small treats - and couldn't get into the art galleries who were typically also much less good at marketing online!

So what's my definition of Affordable Art?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Courtauld Gallery Collection Online

One of the aspects of The Courtauld's recent renewal / refurbishment was a huge digitisation project relating to its collection of various types of artworks, images and artefacts.

You can now see the complete collection online - in a HUGE amount of detail/magnification. It provides an amazing insight for anybody anywhere in the world into both mark-making and processes by famous artists - whether by 

  • brush using oil, watercolour or other media 
  • or stick of charcoal, pastel of graphite

View The Courtauld Gallery Collection Online 

The Courtauld Gallery’s collection, which comprises over 33,000 objects ranging from the Middle Ages to the 21st century and includes paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures, among others, is available to explore in its entirety online for free for the first time thanks to a new digital platform.
This features:
Plus ceramics, silverware, enamels, ivories, books, metalware, silverware, furniture, textiles, glassware, woodwork and frames.

Some of the categories of images online

You can also download images - so long as you stick to the rules. Basically it's a Creative Commons licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Unported) licence - meaning you must provide attribution and not use if commercially.

The Courtauld makes images of its collection and other content on this website available for non-commercial and educational purposes under a Creative Commons licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Unported). For more information on the selected Creative Commons licence, please visit:

You are welcome to use images and content identified as Courtauld copyright for non-commercial purposes in research, private study or study within an educational establishment (such as a school, college or university), for criticism and review. The source of the image or content must be provided and its copyright status acknowledged. Images of the Courtauld collection should be credited with Photo © The Courtauld. Other Courtauld licenced content must be credited with © The Courtauld.

View The Courtauld Gallery Photograph Collection Online

The Courtauld’s photographic collections are of major international significance for the study and research of art, architecture, provenance and collecting, as well as enjoyment and appreciation of art in the classroom and at home


Monday, September 25, 2023

Review: 78th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists

This is a review of the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists  which I visited on Tuesday morning last week - straight after the PV the night before. 

View of the West Gallery with a range of artwork and sizes on display

I'm writing this essentially for three four parties:

  • artists interested in marine art and maybe thinking about applying for next year's exhibition
  • members of the RSMA (re. framing and pricing)
  • the Mall Galleries
  • the Royal Society of Marine Artists.
I'll be commenting very specifically on the artworks in the exhibition.

However, some of the comments in my review follow a theme arising from earlier reviews of annual exhibitions at the Mall Galleries for the very simple reason it's important and universal. That theme very much relates to the interest rate shenanigans and the cost of living crisis experienced over the last 12 months i.e. fewer people having disposable income or feeling confident about buying and this has an impact on sales and by definition to income of artists.

This morning, I've been reviewing the photos I took and counting the subsequent sales on the website after the ones I counted in the exhibition last week - of which more below.

East Gallery

The morning after the PV turned out, as I hoped, to be an excellent time to take photos without a lot of people in front of the artwork. These will be loaded into albums on my Facebook page where they will 

  • either give you an incentive to visit the exhibition
  • provide an insight into the type of artwork which gets selected for the exhibition, if you're unable to visit.
These are the links to my photos of the:
The exhibition continues until Saturday 30th September (10am to 5pm) at the Mall Galleries.

BELOW you can find my review of the artwork and a commentary on sales and the price of artwork sold

Review of RSMA Annual Exhibition 2023

Overall, this is an exhibition which continues to impress in terms of the standard of artwork submitted - with particular respect to its execution. There are, in particular, a number of very impressive oil painters. 

The exhibition is also becoming more diverse and is demonstrating a wider range of both subject matter and media over time. 

It also receives a good level of sponsorship which is reflected in the prizes on offer to participating artists - both members and those selected via the open entry.

Subject Matter

This is an open art exhibition which invites artwork about anything that involves tidal waters of the world

In other this is NOT about water per se - it MUST be essentially marine in nature i.e. involved with TIDAL water. This includes:
  • harbours and shorelines,
  • traditional craft and contemporary shipping,
  • creeks and beaches,
  • wildlife and marine workers
  • in short anything that involves tidal water
The range of subject matter on display in the marine art in this exhibition is fascinating. 

One of the key aspects creating and maintaining a successful art society is knowing your audience and how to reach out to them - otherwise you and your members could be out of pocket pretty fast! 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

UPDATE: The PAOTY Guinness World Record Attempt

Two important items of information about the World Record attempt at portrait painting
  • The Date has CHANGED - from 30th September (train strike day) - to Saturday 28th October 2023 2pm - 5pm
  • To attend you need to RSVP by 25th September via the Event Link on Eventbrite
The Location remains the same: Lindley Hall in Westminter. Below is a map of the location of the RHS Lindley Hall relative to Victoria Coach Station, Waterloo Station, and the Tube Stations at Victoria, St Jame's Park, and Pimlico.

The Blue pin in the map indicates the location of the RHS Lindley Hall

The entrance - depending on which doors they open is either via the RHS HQ at 80 Vincent Square or (more likely in my opinion) via the Hall Entrance Doors in Elverton Street (around the corner).

Arrows indicate location of Entrance Doors to RHS Lindley Hall
The ones usually used for large events are the ones in Elverton Street

Here's what else you need to know

There are a few rules and regulations (not optional) that need to be observed for a world record attempt
  • You will be provided with paint (acrylics), brushes and one A3 canvas to take part
  • You will be provided with an allocated space in the hall, easels and stools will also be available
  • Each artist will be given 15-20min prep time to get comfortable/do a test run before we do the record attempt
  • Each artist will be given 60min to paint a portrait of Sir Lenny as part of the official record attempt from around 3pm
  • To set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title 
    • each artist needs to fill the canvas in proportion to the canvas size i.e. fill as least 80-90% of it with their portrait AND
    • be clearly visible as Sir Lenny (i.e. no abstract art)
So if you've not used acrylics before, now is the time to get practising because they're very different to other paints.

So if you want to attend, please click the link above. However do bear in mind 200 other people might have got there first!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Unseen Turner and Bonington watercolours now on display

Turner and Bonington: Watercolours from the Wallace Collection is a new display of previously unseen watercolours by two of the most significant  watercolour painters of the 19th century - Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) and Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828).  It opened yesterday and is on for the next six months - until 21 April 2024 - in what's known as 'The Housekeeper's Room' on the ground floor just beyond the shop.

Turner and Bonington are two of the finest watercolour painters that England has ever produced. Plus these 19th century watercolours are normally kept in storage as they are very sensitive to light - and they have never been exhibited before at the Wallace Collection or elsewhere.

Richard Parkes Bonington
Venice_ The Doge’s Palace from the Ponte della Paglia, c. 1827-28
© The Trustees of the Wallace Collection

There are only 9 small previously unseen. watercolour paintings and 1 medium sized oil painting however they are definitely worth a trip to see them. The paintings are arranged in themes:

  • Turner and Yorkshire (4 paintings)
  • Bonington and Normandy (3 Paintings)
  • Bonington's Views of Venice (3 paintings)
“The theme of the display is travel; in the sense of finding captivating views whether within the confines of one’s own country or through exploring other countries. The Normandy coves depicted by Bonington were notorious at the time for smuggling, which would have piqued the curiosity of the contemporary viewer, while Venice was, of course, the centre of the Grand Tour and attracted artists and aristocratic tourists in great numbers.”
Dr Lucy Davis, Curator at the Wallace Collection

Another theme relates to how each artist dealt with painting light and atmosphere. 

Turner and Yorkshire

Four watercolours about Yorkshire by JMW Turner

Turner spent a long career based in Britain but also travelled extensively around the UK and across Europe.

This first series is of Yorkshire and are four views painted for Sir William Pilkington (1775-1850) who was a contemporary of Turner and a close family friend. He was based at Chevet Hall near Wakefield.

The four watercolours followed his normal process of being 
  • based on "on the spot" plein air sketches - in the sketchbooks which now form part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain.
  • subsequently worked up into finished watercolour paintings either in his studio or in Yorkshire.
They comprise (left to right):

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Call for Entries: Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2024

The Pastel Society has published its Call for Entries for its 125th Annual Exhibition in January next year.

The Pastel Society seeks the best in contemporary pastel and dry media, combining technical skill with creative originality for the Society's 125th Exhibition.
This is an OPEN ART EXHIBITION. If you submit and are selected for the exhibition your artwork will be
  • included in the catalogue
  • seen by visitors to the Mall Galleries - and it gets a lot of visitors
  • viewed online via the Mall Galleries website and that of the Pastel Society - before, during and after the Exhibition
  • eligible for a number of prizes & awards.
READ ON If you work in pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any other dry media and would like to achieve a higher profile for your artwork - and maybe a sale or a prize!

The 125th Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society: 
SUMMARY of the Call for Entries

  • Artists are invited to submit work for exhibition alongside members of the Pastel Society
  • All submissions are online. 
  • DEADLINE for entries - for a digital image, application form and fee - is noon on Friday 24 November 2023
  • All artwork submitted is judged virtually, after which selected works should be delivered to Mall Galleries, London, for inclusion in the exhibition
  • Exhibition Dates: 23rd January (PV Day - Invite only) to Saturday 10th February 2024.
  • Venue: Mall Galleries, The Mall, London

Below you can find MY version of the Call for Entries. Note that:
  • it includes TIPS and additional comments which those who have not entered before may find useful.
  • Some of those who have entered before and been unsuccessful might also like to have a read.

Submission: key dates and points to note

ALL artworks must be submitted online. 
It means that the quality of your digital image is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL.

REQUIRED READING: On the Mall Galleries website you can find:
Note: The Frequently Asked Questions Page (FAQs) appears to have disappeared from the website.

TIP: If you don't read all the relevant information, do NOT be surprised or irritated if your entry is not selected.

Below is a summary of the stages of entry.

1. ELIGIBLE ARTISTS: Who can enter?

This is an OPEN exhibition and is not limited to work by members.
This exhibition also has works exhibited by people who live outside the UK.
  • Any artist over 18 may submit.
  • There is no restriction of where you live. 
  • It's open to artists in the UK, EU, and outside the EU

Monday, September 18, 2023

Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 has a very different start this year!

I've been keeping my eyes peeled for any indication of the starting date for the tenth series of Portrait Artist of the Year - and I now know when it will start next month - of which more below!

What I did not expect was that the very first episode is going to be a very special feature length episode! 

Or that there are also other plans were in hand to celebrate ten years of Portrait Artist of the Year - and YOU ARE INVITED!

Celebrations for ten years of Portrait Artist of the Year

This year Sky Arts is expanding the tenth series to include TWO extra special events
  • a special episode - involving winners from the first nine series
  • an attempt to set an official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the most people painting online and in a single venue simultaneously.

Portrait Artist of the Decade (First Episode of the 10th series)

The tenth series launches with a special 90 minute feature length programme on 4th October 2023. 

Portrait Artist of the Decade will be broadcast on Sky Arts, Freeview and NOW.

“We are tremendously proud that over 10 years Portrait Artist of the Year has become the pre-eminent painting prize in the UK, and that so many of the wonderfully talented artists who’ve appeared on the programme have gone on to have such glittering careers in portraiture. That plus a range of famous faces captured on canvas make this a true jewel in the Sky Arts crown.” Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts

  • All the previous winners of the first nine series return to Battersea Arts Centre to compete for the title of "Portrait Artist of the Decade".
  • The sitter will be Dame Judi Dench
  • The 90-minute special aims to:
    • celebrate one of the world’s most acclaimed actors and 
    • find out what has happened to previous winners and their careers since they won.
“We’re very proud of everything our series has delivered over ten years for Sky Arts and especially for the hundreds of brilliant and inspiring artists who’ve featured in it. And what better way to celebrate our tenth anniversary than with Dame Joan Bakewell, Dame Judi Dench and Dr Jane Goodall, DBE as our sitters?” Stuart Prebble, Chairman of Storyvault Films - who make the show

Dame Judi Dench at Battersea Arts Centre
- with Morag Caistor (the 2022 PAOTY winner) in the background

A record-breaking portrait painting attempt! 

There's also going to be a live record-breaking portrait painting event on 30th September.  (see Update #2 below)

[UPDATE #1: Unfortunately this is the same date as the next Train Strike (on 30th September). However you can get to London via National Express Coach services to Victoria Coach Station - and you can walk to the Lindley Hall from there! Or come to London on Friday and go home on Sunday and make a weekend of it! But book soon!]

[UPDATE #2: The date has now been changed to Saturday 28th October 2023, 2pm - 5pm. I'm doing an update post on Saturday about what's changed since I originally posted]

This will attempt to set an official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the most people painting online and in a single venue simultaneously - as follows:

  • Celebrity Sitter: Sir Lenny Henry (comedian, actor, presenter and national treasure) returns - as a challenge for all those who thought they could do a better job of painting him! That last bit is what was my first reaction following the comments about last year's final!
“I loved sitting for Portrait Artist of the Year in 2022 and it was a real honour to take part. This year is a little different, but no less momentous. I’m so grateful for the chance to be invited back to play my part in what will hopefully be a new world record for the history books!”
  • Venue: This needs to be rather big to accommodate 200 painters and the RHS Lindley Hall in Victoria, London has been chosen. (Address: Elverton Street, London, SW1P 2PB). This is a venue which is very familiar to me since I've visited many RHS Shows and Botanical Art Shows there!
  • Take Part: There are 200 places in the Lindley Hall for portrait painters. 
    Artists of all ages and abilities can sign up to paint Sir Lenny Henry and break the world record here. (This is the link to Eventbrite where you book your place)
This event is open to all budding artists, Portrait Artist of the Year fans, and anyone who fancies giving it a go, whether you've been painting for years or have yet to pick up a brush. It's completely free and open to all ages** and abilities. All art materials will be provided for you.
  • Live-Streaming: The session will also be livestreamed for fans across the world to join the record attempt online and create their own portrait of the actor, writer and comedian.
Lenny’s portrait by Morag Caister, last year’s Portrait Artist winner, is currently on display in the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery (On display in Room 33 on Floor 0)

Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 (Series 10)

Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 will be broadcast weekly on Sky Arts, Freeview and NOW starting on 11th October 2023.

The Commission Prize

Prize: £10,000 Commission to create a portrait
Sitter: world-renowned conservationist Dr Jane Morris Goodall, DBE, who is a British born conservation icon, best known globally for her work with chimpanzees.

The portrait commission will then be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in December.

The Sitters for the semi-final and Final

  • The Final: three finalists will paint the one and only Dame Joan Bakewell (broadcasting legend and Portrait Artist of the Year royalty)!
  • Semi-Final: Each heat winner will paint British pop icon Emma Bunton

The 21 Sitters for the Seven Heats

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Graham Crowley wins John Moores Painting Prize 2023

Last week it was announced that Graham Crowley, age 73, has won the John Moores Painting Prize 2023 with his painting of 'Light Industry' (see below). 

The John Moores Painting Prize 2023 (£25,000)

The award brings a prize pot of £25,000 and a  a solo display at the Walker Art Gallery in 2025.

Light Industry by Graham Crowley

I'm surprised.

I can only reiterate what I thought when I reviewed all the paintings when they were shortlisted
I've got the big versions of the images of these paintings and this one has been produced by wiping paint in different directions to create a background - and then drawing into it while it's still wet. It's a neat and effective painting technique and worth highlighting - but I'm not sure it does enough to merit winning the first prize.
I haven't changed my mind.

I know the judging is anonymous - but one does wonder.....  However I am now inclined to believe the prize might be in part be not so much to do with an individual painting so much as maybe recognition of an artist who has been repeatedly selected for the John Moores Painting Prize - having had a painting selected 10 times over FIVE DECADES - in each of these years: 1976, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1993, 2004, 2006, 2016 - and 2023!

"Light Industry" was apparently inspired by a visit to a motorcycle dealer in Framlingham, Suffolk – which the artist describes as part workshop, part counter-cultural ‘museum’.

Graham Crowley commented as follows
“The John Moores Painting Prize is without doubt the UK’s pre-eminent painting competition and exhibition. One of my ambitions, apart from painting the best paintings I possibly can, has always been to win. Exhibiting as part of the prize in the past has played a significant part in establishing my reputation as a painter. This is important as I, like most practicing painters, am not represented by a gallery or commercial interest.”

“The prize has an authoritative history of post-war painting in the UK, and its credibility and longevity are testament to the anonymous judging process. I am thrilled to be the first prize winner this year.”

About Graham Crowley

Graham Crowley in his Studio
  • Born in Romford, Essex in 1950
    • Art Education:1968 – 69 Foundation Studies, St Martin's School of Art, London
    • 1969 – 72 Diploma in Art & Design, St Martin's School of Art, London
    • 1972 – 75 MA (RCA), Royal College of Art, London
    • 1978-85 – Visiting lecturer in painting, RCA.
  • Crowley worked originally as an abstract painter but began to paint figuratively in the 1970s.
  • His work has been shown extensively in England and Europe, including exhibitions at the Venice and Paris biennales and at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
  • He is included in a number of public collections and has also completed several large-scale public commissions.
  • He has been living and working in Suffolk since 2014.
  • This is his CV

Other Prizewinners

Shortlisted Artists (£2,500 each)

By way of introduction (from me)
  • there are four "technique paintings" (for want of a better term) - only one of which interests me
  • and a genuine original which has both substance and impact.
  • my favourites are by the two youngest painters.
The four other shortlisted artists who will each receive £2,500 are: 
  • Social Murder: Grenfell In Three Parts by Nicholas Baldion, 
  • Stochastic 14 by Emily Kraus, 
  • Other Light by Damian Taylor and 
  • Champagne Cascade I by Francisco Valdes.
You can see details of  these artists - and their paintings - in my post Five artists shortlisted for John Moores Painting Prize 2023

Lady Grantchester Prize 

This award (supported by Winsor & Newton) has been developed to support artists in the early stages of their career. 

This is the first time this prize has been awarded. It comprises £5,000, a residency and £2,500 worth of art materials for her work.

Emma Roche in her studio knitting her acrylic!

Emma Roche won the Lady Grantchester Prize.  Her work is made of knitted acrylic painting on wooden panels. She commented as follows
“I really value this recognition and support from the John Moores Painting Prize. I am interested in pushing painting to its limit through the different processes that I use, so the work is not always immediately recognised as painting or as paint. I was thrilled to find out that I made it through to the exhibition stage and to be a prize winner is surreal. I feel very grateful.”
Emma has B.A. in Fine Art Painting, N.C.A.D., Dublin, 2006; an M.A. in Visual Arts Practices, I.A.D.T. Dublin, 2010; and attended the Turps Banana Art School, London 2016-2019 


So one painter in his 70s wins the big prize and one much younger artist wins the "support the career prize". 

In my view, I'd have preferred to have seen a Lifetime Achievement Award for an older painter and the big prize going to somebody much younger.

There are those of us who think somebody winning a very major prize in the early part of their career is actually the best possible support to the future career of an artist. There's a fair few painters who have won this one early on who can support that view.

Visitors' Choice Award (£2,023)

Visitors to the exhibition are now invited to vote for their favourite painting to win the popular Visitors’ Choice Award, sponsored by Rathbones. The winning artist will receive £2,023

The Exhibition

The John Moores Painting Prize is the UK's most well-known painting competition, bringing together the best contemporary painting from across the UK to Liverpool.
The 70 paintings - selected from a record 3,357 entries - included in the John Moores Painting Prize Exhibition are now open to view at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool 16 Sep 2023—25 Feb 2024.

I'm guessing the record entries are in part generated by the demise of several other art competitions with serious prize money.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Cy Baker: solo exhibition of wildlife art

Cy Baker - winner of Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022
demonstrating his art in his solo exhibition of his artwork 
in the East Gallery of the Mall Galleries

There's no mention on the Mall Galleries website or the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation of the artwork being displayed by Cy Baker who won the Wildlife Artist of the Year Award in 2022 in the East Gallery of the Mall Galleries. 

It's even more odd given that when I visited on Tuesday, he had also sold all but one of his paintings and for not insignificant sums. 

Exhibition of paintings by Cy Baker - winner of Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022
in the East Gallery of the Mall Galleries

In fact, in terms of best selling wildlife art for significant sums this was where all the action was this week!

So below, is a short overview of Cy Baker and his artwork

This is a short video of how the exhibition came together at the Mall Galleries

You can see more of his solo exhibition at this link on his website.

Cy Baker - Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022.

Cy Baker was in the East Gallery, demonstrating how he creates his very effective paintings and I had a chance to talk with him and find out how he works and how he sells his paintings.

After winning David Shepherd’s Wildlife Foundations Wildlife Artist of the Year last year I chose to spend my winnings on visiting the project doing incredible work in Uganda. I was utterly blown away by the work being done to save these animals lives. All the work sold in this exhibition will have 50% of the sale money go directly to saving wildlife all over the globe.

His paintings

Cy Baker has been creating wildlife artwork on canvas using a biro and oil paint for c. 10 years.
  • He first creates a gesso surface on the canvas incorporating a very weak solution of Titanium white to produce a light buff finish
  • Then he uses a biro with lightfast ink to create a drawing on the canvas and a complete tonal pattern of his subject matter. He's stroking the biro onto the canvas and hatching where appropriate. It took some time to find a biro which worked well with canvas.
  • He then uses weak solutions of Winsor and Newton Titanium White to enhance the 3D nature of his paintings. In effect he "cuts in" with the white after the drawing has been developed.
This video has Cy talking about he uses his biro to create the artwork and how he creates his compositions which are a very strong feature of his artwork

About Cy Baker

He studied scientific illustration at Southampton Institute and Blackpool and the Fylde College of Art in the 1990s after which he worked for about five years as a freelance illustrator. 

He then worked fulltime in Customer Services for 14 years before giving up his job in April 2015 to try and make it as a full time professional artist. 

He's succeeded in getting noticed, being selected for open/juried exhibitions and winning awards - and selling his artwork!

How he sells his paintings

Cy has learned over the years how to sell artwork and how to make money (they're two different things!). He does not have a gallery and organises his own sales - and consequently has better control over his selling expenses.
  • He attends a number of Art Fairs where he is now a regular exhibitor and where his artwork sells well
  • He has a shop on this website where he sells original artwork, limited edition prints and open edition prints direct to customers
  • He also works on commission and describes the process on his website
He's also providing different offers for different pockets - with 
  • original artwork in different sizes
  • limited edition prints
  • open edition prints
Rather than having standard prices for specific sizes, he makes adjustments depending on the complexity of the work.

I'm a fan of his approach to creating consistent pricing and sales!
  • He's progressed to his current prices over a number of years having found the market for his work and fans who love to buy his artwork. 
  • He did NOT start out with a bang asking for a lot of money but rather found out prices worked in relation to generating consistent sales of his artwork. 
  • He now raises his prices in small incremental changes over time. 
Like I said he's sold all but one painting within 24 hours of the exhibition opening. I think he's got it about right!

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You can find Cy Baker on his:
  • Website
  • Facebook Page (the banner is the piece which won him Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2022)
  • Instagram
  • You Tube Channel

Friday, September 15, 2023

Review: A Girl about Town by Rosa Sepple

Rosa Sepple PPRI seems to have settled on 50 paintings as a goodly number for a solo show. This is how many paintings she has in her latest exhibition "A Girl About Town" which is on at the new RWS Galleries at 3 Whitcomb Street (next to the National Gallery) in central London.

If you're an artist, I recommend you take a look at an exhibition by an artist who is renowned for having a very good track record in solo shows and sells lots of paintings!

If you're a collector, I recommend you take a look at artwork which is very different from most art you see in galleries and exhibitions.

Rosa Sepple and the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night (SOLD)

The exhibition has been organised by Adrian Hill Fine Art who has been selling Rosa's artwork to a very enthusiastic set of collectors for quite a while. He's one of those gallerists who's got a very good portfolio of artists he represents and others whose work he sells. The paintings are all presented extremely well using the same black frames which are used for all Rosa's paintings.

The exhibition at the RWS Whitcomb Galleries3 - 5 Whitcomb Street, London WC2H 7HA is on

  • From:  Tuesday 12th - To: Saturday 23rd September
  • Hours: 11am - 6pm daily (Saturday 23rd 11am - 2pm Only)
On Private View night I walked into a gallery with a LOT of red spots for sales already in evidence plus a number of green ones for those reserved prior to the collector visiting the show.

To date (14th September), after the exhibition has been open for 4 days she's sold 24 paintings of the 50 paintings with three more reserved. So basically she's almost certainly sold half the show with more than a week to go! 

In essence, it's art from the perspective of a young woman - with sparkle - with dreams about what might be! Rosa's paintings are very much uniquely hers.  For those who are interested, the subject matter sales split as follows:

  • Party Girls
  • Single women
  • Couples 
  • Landscapes (typically maritime and Venice)
However, aspects of Rosa's paintings do remind me of two artists who have been extremely popular in the UK:
  • Beryl Cook - the fascination of things which rather larger middle aged women do - with various added fun components; and 
  • the landscapes and narratives of LS Lowry with added whimsical components. 
Rosa Sepple is an artist who likes to paint narratives which tell stories or evoke feelings of "fun" and/or "feeling good". If your paintings can make others smile and feel good too, you can sell a lot of paintings! 

"Dance to the Music" by Rosa Sepple

Interestingly it also reminded me that, in general, I see very few paintings by women of things women like to do. Which is maybe a thought to ponder on for all the female artists out there. 

Personally, I like her larger narrative paintings with lots of people doing lots of things. They have the capacity to make me stop and look for a long time - in much the same way as LS Lowry paintings have done for many people in the past.

I also very much like her skills in the use of collage and frottage to give the paintings textural interest.

The Village Green by Rosa Sepple

Rosa makes it her practice to develop and hold a number of solo shows - in liaison with Adrian Hill - for her very unique subject matter and style which draws a number of avid collectors. It's not the sort of art you see in every gallery - you need somebody who believes in you and Adrian certainly does that. 

I have to highlight that it's not the sort of art I buy. The first time I saw her work - a long time ago in the RWS Open at the Bankside Gallery - I found myself saying to myself, in a fairly pompous huffy way, things like "But you're not allowed to put lots of glitter in paintings!" However I was VERY wrong!  Sparkle can sell paintings!

I now absolutely and totally get why her art is so popular with so many people. Many of the paintings remind me of parties I went to back in the 60s and 70s and people do like fun paintings!

Party Girls by Rosa Sepple in "A Girl About Town"

Party girls in the Basement Gallery

The exhibition also looks absolutely splendid in the brand new RWS Whitcomb Galleries (one on the ground floor and two more in the basement). It's looking very much like an excellent place to hold a solo show. (As somebody who is disabled, I also was very impressed with the lift and facilities for visitors)

I had to wait until the end of the Private View evening to get photos of the galleries without LOTS of people in front of the paintings.

Two Basement Galleries

One final point to ponder

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2023 Exhibition

This is about the David Shepherd Foundation's Wildlife Artist of the Year 2023 Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, which I visited on Tuesday. It provides:

  • announcement of the artwork winning the top prize
  • comments on the Exhibition
  • my photos of the exhibition - plus links to more images of the artwork - including all the Category Winners
  • comments on pricing and sales

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2023

"The Journey" by Karen Laurence-Row
(Abstract World category)
oil and gold leaf 113 x 113 cm framed

The winner of Wildlife Artist of the Year 2023 Prize is Karen Laurence-Row for her oil and gold leaf painting titled "The Journey" (Abstract World category) 113 x 113 cm framed.

It's the story of a giraffe. It's much more abstract than most winners have been in the past. I can't tell you anything about it or why it was chosen as there's nothing on the website and, despite a request, I've not been emailed a press release.
Born in Uganda, daughter to a civil engineer, her family lived almost a nomadic existence, moving around East Africa to wherever a road or a bridge was needed. With no towns or cities around for hundreds of miles, Karen and her siblings would draw to entertain themselves. These memories of Africa’s virtually unspoiled landscapes, teeming with game and magnificent views, were to influence her subject matter as an artist in later years. (her website)
The Judges for the Awards in 2023 were made up of
  • PR and advertising experts: Karrie Goldberg (Founder of The Kagency and Outernet)
  • artists: Hazel Soan Gary Hodges, Mandy Shepherd and Emily Shepherd
  • conservationists: Melanie Shepherd, Chair of the DSWF Board of Trustees
  • gallery owners: Simon Trapnell (founder of Nature in Art)
  • art expert / agent: Rita Alay Libera Del Curoto Askernasy (Founder of MT Art Agency)
  • interior designers: Wendy Feess.

Category winners

The categories have been revised this year. They now include:
  • Abstract World and 
  • Environmental Activism.
The latter category was won by Ophelia Redpath the winner of the Landscape Artist of the Year 2021 with her painting Not in a Million Years. Below is my photo of her two stunning paintings and her habit of creating paintings with a story seems particularly apposite for this competition and the Environmental Activism category. She also won The Artist Editor's Choice Prize as well - so expect an article about Ophelia's wildlife paintings in an upcoming edition of The Artist

Two paintings in the Environmental Activism category
by Ophelia Redpath

As things stand at the moment there's no listing of the category winners on their website - but you can see them on my Facebook Page (see link below)

You can also see a solo exhibition by Cy Baker in the East Gallery. He won last year when the exhibition was online only. I'll be doing a blog post about him later this week and he also gets a mention below.

The Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition 2023

There has been no physical exhibition for three years so I was very pleased to see a very welcome and very impressive sight when I walked in to the Mall Galleries - and I commend this exhibition to all lovers of wildlife art.

Very sadly, as the exhibition has switched away from online only, we are left with a conundrum. The website now appears to be entirely focused on sales and is removing all sold images from view - so you cannot see the artwork which won the major prize and many others which have sold

[UPDATE: I've now found both the 2023 Exhibition Online and the Finalists Artwork - where you can vote for your favourite in the People's Choice Award]

You can also see my album of photos of the exhibition on my Facebook Page - where you can see the winner AND all the category winners!!

The DWSF Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition 2023 is on at the Mall Galleries 

  • until 16th September - from 10am - 5pm every day. 
  • Entrance is FREE. 
  • There is an excellent catalogue available at the front desk 

DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year is an internationally renowned wildlife art competition and exhibition, which each year attracts entries from some of the most talented artists around the globe, who come together to celebrate the beauty of the natural world.

The exhibition fills the West Gallery of the Mall galleries and looks simply splendid. Observations I noted during my visit include:

Friday, September 08, 2023

Am I hacked or not? Or is it all Google's fault?

I feel like Google has got me running round and round in circles at the moment on my laptop. Plus I think Google may well be the maverick in the mix!

Google is telling me - via Search Console - that a website I own has been hacked i.e. 

  • a new sub-domain URLs exists - whereas I never ever use sub-domains
    • i.e. sub domain name prefixes exist (e.g. - where I own )
  • this is identified by gmail headed Alert - Hacked content found on (your website domain name URL)
  • they then identify new website owners - of the new sub-domain
  • this is identified in a gmail headed New owner for (sub-domain website URL)

Identifying non-existent sub-domains

I need to get them deleted but first I have to find them - and that is proving very difficult

To date, I have been wholly unable to identify any sub-domains - which should be obvious given how my page listing works.

It could be a tiny bit of script somewhere - but I haven't been able to find it as there are no clues as to where it is located.

Removing sub-domains

So I've been looking for help from Google by stopping all the sub-domains from being shared via the Google Search Index instead!
  • via the Removals Tool in Search Console (in the Indexing Section in the left hand column)
  • BUT this is only a temporary measure
Where you find the Removals tool

Google has acted on all my requests except one - for some reason. Need to work that one out.
However the removal from the index is only temporary - and I still need to work out why they exist.

Non-existent owners with gmails

I've reported the gmail addresses used by new sub-domain owners to Google Gmail 
  • despite the fact that Google Search Console say they do not exist!!
  • you can check who owns your website / domain name via Search Console Settings and Ownership Verification.

Unhelpful websites

So far, both my domain name registrar (Namecheap) and my website host (Square/Weebly) have proved to be pretty useless at helping me out. 

Neither have explained how the particular hack affecting me happens - and yet I can't be the first.

Apparently it's all down to me!

A helpful site if you get hacked

I have found one helpful website while working my round what on earth is going on.

Take a look at for a page of tips and recommendations.

They also provide remote help for a fee. I've not tried it - as yet.
I'm still working on the principle that Google is doing something wrong!

One more thing..... Country blocking

I've got a stats package which provides very detailed answers and at the moment I have worked out that it looks likely that all the hackers and the sub-domains come from either China or Malaysia

So my next task is to work out how to block China and Malaysia!

I've done this before - but can't remember how and I think it might have been on different webware. 

I think I've just found an inexpensive app which might do this. It's worth a go....