Think again: Watercolor painting isn’t difficult!

Contrary to what people think… Painting with Watercolors isn’t difficult to paint!

painting with watercolor

A5 watercolour: Basically a simple composition. Missed spots and finer details were filled-in and added during the finishing-off process.

Why do people think painting with watercolor is difficult?

When they first tried painting with watercolors, they felt they had no control. For three main reasons I have listed below. Things I have noticed while teaching watercolour beginners:

  1. They get impatient when things don’t happen as they expected and as quickly as they wanted.
  2. And got fed-up when the paint bleds all over the place into other previous wet painted areas. This happened because they wanted to paint a whole painting straight off, first time, without first learning the basics.
  3. So they just charged in, hoping somehow things would just happen miraculously with the switch of their brush.

So why is it that some people become great watercolorists?

  1. They loved colouring-in and drawing so much as a child, that they wanted to learn more about art.
  2. Over time they got the desire to paint with watercolours, because it looked so easy to do, and also that it created such exciting blends and washes of colour.
  3. Their realized even if it took time to perfect, that didn’t matter, because it would be a fun activity, they could and would enjoy doing for the rest of their lives.
  4. The more they got involved and learnt to control the thrilling idiosyncrasies of watercolour, the more they became obsessed with the technologies of painting. The `rollercoaster’ of failure and success to them, became an adventure, they just couldn’t stop!

So what is the secret to painting with watercolours:

  1. Simplify your composition. Avoid complex detail. Desire what is most impressive.
  2. Be patient with yourself. Don’t rush in like a `bull in a china shop’. Think before you act. Plan your moves and the possible stages required to achieve your goals.
  3. Watch what you are doing: Where your brush is going. How close your wet brush is to what is already wet.
  4. Why, because watercolour is liquid. Obviously and naturally water flows and runs more easily where it is already wet!
  5. Make sure you have the right mixture and strength of hue, and check the amount of liquid/paint on your brush, before you apply your brush to your paper.
  6. And observe the wetness or dryness of the paper and paint already there, before putting your brush to paper. Even if it means waiting a few minutes before you can add another colour. This is where artistic know-how and patience comes in.

Artistic know-how:

You can read books how things are done, but trying out those techniques for yourself, is the `proof of the pudding’. The more you practice those techniques the more you have control of them. Theory alone isn’t good enough… your passion and ability to master them is what counts.

Artistic patience:

When you’ve been an artist long enough, you realize art it is an emotional activity. That means using all your senses, to control and create all the things you imagine and desire to paint. Because you can’t reproduce what God created so beautiful, creativity is part reality and part fantasy. Therefore intuition is part spiritual and part knowledge. Something you gain through careful observance and enduring experience.

There are other further tips and free downloads, on how to paint with watercolour:

Check out the free eBooks on this website:

Drawing: It’s easy to DRAW things!

Here’s a SIMPLE drawing lesson strategy,

That will turn you into a profound artist overnight!

Select and draw simple basic shapes to begin with. Then move on to more complex shapes later, after you have learnt how to capture the basic shapes of objects:

Drawing and painting with simplicity

A5 watercolour: Simple painting of houses.

Oh, you say you can’t even draw, now!

That’s rubbish! Drawing isn’t hard. Anyone can draw and paint. If they stopped and observed things more carefully, before trying to copy what they decided to draw or paint.

Okay then. How?

  1. Do you remember when you learnt to write your ABC in grade one? How long did it take you to write your name or a sentence?
  2. Do you remember how long it took to write a simple sum at school and add it up?

Really it wasn’t long to learn the basics, was it! But perfecting your writing skills took a little bit longer didn’t it? So it is with art. To become a good artist means spending enough time practicing your new acquired skill.

So what are the basic drawing skills then?

First, recognizing basic shapes around you:

  • Look more closely, see cars and bicycles have round wheels.
  • Houses and buildings are made up of squares, rectangles and triangle shapes.
  • Fir trees and ice-cream cones have cone shapes.
  • Drinking glasses have up-side-down cone shapes, with oval eclipse bases and top-opening.
  • And body-parts of people basically consist of oval, round and triangle/wedge shapes.
Draw with simplicity

See the simple basic shapes in things.

Drawing simple shapes gives you confidence!

The next stage, is to link the ‘dots”

Have you ever filled in those exercises in the children’s section of magazines? Where you need to draw a line (with a pencil) from one number to another, until an object is recognizable? Well, that’s how you draw objects.

Simplifying your drawings:

  1. Your object may look somewhat complex at first, but once you have observed its basic outline and simple shapes within it, it doesn’t look so complex after all.
  2. Start drawing your object, with those simple basic shapes and leave out the detail. When doing this for the first time, try doing only bold objects at first, like balls, apples and fir trees.
  3. Don’t hold your pencil tightly and be finicky, in the effort to perfect or neaten your lines. Lightly draw those shapes softly and loosely. Don’t put pressure on your pencil.
  4. Let your pencil flow ‘lazily’ around and over the basic shapes as you draw around, joining and linking the shapes, until the object’s outline is recognizable.
  5. Don’t worry about defining details yet. Reiterated lines are okay for the time being. The reiterated lines allow you later to select which lines really want, to embody the shape or not. It also gives the object an animated appearance.
  6. At this point, your soft synopsis allows you to judge its possible position in the composition. What’s so great about this way of working lightly; is that the light synopsis sketch can be eased-out or adjusted, before perfecting the shape or its proper position.
  7. The human form is more complex. When it has been broken down to basic shapes, it looks may look somewhat like a robot at first. But once you have linked and rounded off the body parts, it starts to look more realistic.

Drawing results and conclusion:

  • Been more observant is important. Judging what you look at, by shape and tonal, contrast helps to define what is important and what’s unnecessary.
  • The Chinese recognized this principle of painting simple shapes many centuries ago. They also understood the symbolic outlines of their brushstrokes said it all.
  • Like toilet and road icon signs, symbolic shapes are far more quickly recognized by people when they look at your paintings. That’s why modern artists realize that bold shapes have more impact in their paintings.
  • Having started with soft simple outlines, reduces your composing time and also makes it easier to capture quickly moving objects.
  • It also proves that outer outlines are symbolically recognizable. And if outlines are symbolic that means internal details aren’t so important. The internal section only needs a few details added, if really necessary, to create mood or if the object is the main point of interest.
  • So learning to draw like this, with this guileless `ABC’ method; proves you can draw even the simplest of objects, if you really want to.

Last retort on drawing:

Being an artist doesn’t happen by accident! If you practice often enough, you will become a good artist, in spite of what you think at the present moment!

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ART: Want to know HOW-TO make GREEN?

I often get the questions how-to:

  • How do I make Black?”
  • How do I make brown?”
  • How do I make olive green?”

These how-to questions may seem silly to some. Considering at school we learnt about primary colours, for example: RED apples, BLUE sky, and YELLOW bananas . And then also told how to mix yellow and blue to make green, etc.

How-to make bown

A5 watercolour: Autumn trees displaying different shades of brown, orange and golds.

But new aspiring artists do ask those questions above. It generally happens with their first art class exercise, when they have trouble producing different shades of green. Or when making up colour wheels.

So if students are having trouble making different shades and hues of green, brown or even black, we need to have a greater understand how the primary colours work and how neural and grays are created.

Starting with the best selection of primary pigments, to make those shades and hues.

We often hear the theory, “ You only need the three primary colours to make a simple palette!” That is referring to: a small selection or amount of pigments, which can make a whole range of different colours.

HINT: The best and largest range of colours is made from a cool selection of the primary colours. For example: cool lemon yellow, cool thalo blue and cool Alizarin red.

How-to mix colours

Several primary colour wheels, illustrating how-to make green, brown, black and gray.

So  now let’s move on, and learn how-to answer those questions above:

BLACK: is basically made in theory with the mixture of dark red and blue, and a little yellow. Using less yellow is understandable when you consider nighttime doesn’t have full sunlight.

So that is why some artists include a green pigment instead of yellow.  Because it is a clearer darker colour than an opaque yellow pigment. And because green is made up of yellow and blue.

Of cause the resulting shade of the mixture, will depend on which primary is more dominate. That is, a cool bluish black will have slightly more blue in the mixture. A warm black will have slightly more red in the mixture.

BROWN: is basically the equal mixture of red & blue, and more yellow in the content. This is logical when you see brown sand easier in the daytime! The shade of brown of cause also depends on which primary colour is the most dominate.

  • Warning: Now if you have been fiddling, stirring with your brush, mixing in more and more colours into your painting in the attempt to get your colours just right, you most properly wondering why your painting turned into a murky muddy colour! Because all three primaries were equally involved!

OLIVE GREEN: Is the mixture of orange and green. The shades of green you want depends on which colour dominates the mixture. Please note, yellow is the in-between colour of olive.

Please note:

  • The fact olive green, teal and russet are neutral colours.
  • Russet that is made from orange and violet, is also has a brownish shade! That is, it’s a mixture of the three primary colours: Red being the dominant primary colour. And orange having a touch of yellow. And violet having some blue in it.
  • Teal is a mixture of green and violet. Thus blue been the in-between dominate colour. And to add an interesting fact: putting a touch of violet or magenta in tree foliage complements the green mass and makes it come more alive with colour.

And while we are at it, let’s go deeper and also talk about creating simple grays.

To start with grays are generally made with opposite colours, often referred to as complementary colours. Basically how-to make:

  • Orange mixed with blue makes battleship gray.
  • Yellow and violet makes golden grays.
  • But sadly red and green makes ugly grays.

And here again the shade depends on which of the two colours involved, is more dominate!

But you often hear professional artists make beautiful colourful greys, and wonder how they do it!?

To make such beautiful grays, they use off-centre split complementarys. That means using colours not quite directly opposite. For example how-to mix grays:

  • Violet and yellow-green or sap green.
  • Violet and raw sienna or raw umber.
  • Thalo Winsor green and orange or burnt sienna.

PS: I hope this discussion on mixing colours has been simple to understand, and will help you paint the most exciting beautiful paintings from now on.

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Art: How to Get Gallery Acceptance

Want to sell your art in galleries?

“The gallery is sure to like this painting….” Once we have completed a painting, we think it was such fun to paint that in your estimation everybody will love it too, only to find out:

Gallery acceptance

A5 watercolour: Dynamics of spray as wave hits cliff and rocks.

It isn’t easy to get accepted into a gallery.

The fact is, gallery owners won’t take in your art if they think it isn’t sale-able! Obviously they need to steady sales to stay in business. So you need to know what protocol, quality and type of artwork they will accept:

  • Check out what each gallery has in their gallery: Depending on where the gallery is, they have a particular clientele milieu. If you want your work displayed there, your style of work must fit the niche.
  • Prominent galleries chiefly look for unique original works of art. Why, because they want to be THE GALLERY, upfront promoting new trends. Not only can they ask higher prices and commissions, but that their gallery becomes well-known, and thus attract prominent art lover investors.
  • Your personality also plays a big part. And how your portfolio is presented.
  • Some people say you must have membership in a renowned art club to be accepted. But in my experience, this hasn’t been necessary. If your work is fantastic they will be only too eager to have your work in their gallery. But they will inquire resume history to satisfy their curiosity as to the worthiness of your talent.
  • Future business arrangements: Find out what their commission rate is and how you relate to the owner of the gallery. Be aware of deals and contracts that are impossible to espouse or maintain.

It’s wise to assess your paintings before rushing off to the galleries:

  • We need to look at our art work through the eyes of the general public. What would they think of it? What will make impact on their senses? Is it dramatic enough?
  • What is the quality of your brushstrokes? Did you fiddle too much until it looks fussy and overworked?
  • If you plan undercoats and each layer of paint in the first place, you won’t need so many layers to get the right effect. And you will achieve the effect that much sooner as well.
  • Your paintings must have impact. Consider where do you want or need the greatest impact? Use the greatest contrast of tone and colour there to give the painting more oomph.
  • Also ask yourself: Is the subject matter, composition or style, unique? Is it a carbon copy of what’s already out there? And who wants to be judged against another artist’s work as secondhand inferiority?

What about those old paintings you have storied away?

Can you still sell them?

I’m sure when you have look back on your old paintings, you’ve realize your skills have improved since you had painted them. Overtime your technique and style of working has changed somewhat too.

  • Shame, they were your `babies’. And now, they seem somehow to embarrass you!
  • Sadly people tend to recall our talent according to our old `grotty’ creations.

So what could we possibly do about those old paintings?

  • You could destroy them or hide them, so no one will see your amateur attempts.
  • Whatever you do, don’t ever work over them again. It will make them look tired and overworked.
  • On the other hand, you could re-do those same scenes again with your new improved skills. But with the new project, please rethink your composition format and put more oomph into it.

The best thing to do is put all your time and effort preferably on new works of art.

  • Where you can put all your new-found skills and knowledge to better use.
  • Consider what makes people’s emotions, by using profound colour schemes that sizzle and pop everyone senses into buying the stuff.


Make sure your artwork is of high quality and has unique style and dynamic impact, before rushing off to any galleries.

If you want to see more seascape watercolour paintings or want to know how to paint watercolour paintings, check out: Watercolour Seacape Secrets blogs.

How to Capture & Draw Shapes

Note from the page: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:

Where Ada Fagan invited those who had any questions about art and painting, that they could leave their questions in the comments block below or if they required privacy they could email her at:

Draw things

A5 watercolour: Autumn time.

Today’s Question deals with: HOW TO DRAW SHAPES

How do you start drawing-in the shapes of things, when composing paintings? I can’t get my objects to look right. My attempts are pathetic. For example nothing looks natural. My trees look stiff like Egyptian fans and my cars look squashed with high roofs!

You’re not the first to have this problem.

Many art students start out like that, until they see things as simple basic shapes.

When you start out composing a composition you don’t copy every detail you see. You may see the big picture, but to capture and place things on your canvas, you first have to look and select the bare facts.

Ask yourself the question:

  • What stands out?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What are the most exciting objects?

Instead of seeing objects as intricate complex things, rather look at things as simple shapes and with basic skeleton structure. General outlines speak volumes! So don’t worry about the fine details at this stage.

What type of shapes should you be looking out for?

Round, oval and ovoid, cube, square and rectangle, cone and dome shaped, pyramid and triangle, tube and cylinder, half-moon shapes, etc.

For example:

  • Bubbles and apples are generally round. Teapots and jugs have round bellies.
  • Houses and buildings generally have block shapes with square or rectangle shapes.
  • People seen in the distance, don’t have to show everything, not even feet. As long as there is a dot for a head and a suggested triangle for a woman’s skirt.
  • The structure of humans (close-up) is made up of ovals, triangles and wedges for feet.
  • Glasses and cups have ellipse ovals. Just because a glass stands on a flat table doesn’t mean you draw the base straight across, it has a curved bottom contour.
  • The outline of trees can be fan or top-shaped (like the shape of a child’s toy top) or ball-shaped. Fir trees have cone and triangle shapes.
  • The wheels of cars, trucks and bicycles are round, and the inner frame of the bicycle is a triangle.
  • The shape of leaves is club, spade and heart shaped.

Note: Basic forms create reasoning. When people see basic shapes in a painting, it makes it easier to ‘read’ your painting.

Lines also give structure to things in your composition:

  • Hills and distant mountains have undulating wavy contour lines.
  • Cars these days are not so square looking. They have more flowing contour lines.
  • Rivers, streams, roads and pathways have diminishing S and Z perspective contour lines.
  • Foliage of trees have upper canopy or umbrella shaped contour lines.
  • The growth pattern of tree trunks and the more obvious branches are the skeleton or structural lines of the tree. The flow, direction and angle of these lines clarify the characteristics of the tree.

Note: Not only the shape, but the bones of the object, makes it easy to translate the object onto your canvas.

 For tree example:

If you look at a tree more carefully you will notice that the trunk is leaning, even if it’s only a little, at an angle. And the main obvious branches have a pattern or flow of growth.

And the outer overall shape of the tree’s foliage differs according to its species. Whether it has leaves or not, the overall shape has an outer canopy shape, which can be an umbrella shape, round or oval shape, or as grouped rounded outlines.

Then look at the possible composition and decide where to place the bones of the tree structure. If it’s on the left side, you can have the lean of the tree leaning inwards to direct the eye into the scene. And if on the right-hand side of your canvas, have it pointing inwards, to redirect the eye into the scene or pointing towards the main point of interest.

As to winter trees that have no leaves, you don’t have to put in every twig, if your overall structure and canopy shape describes the type of tree you are trying to convey.

Always remember trees also have branches in the front and at the back. And don’t draw straight neat branches, vary the length and description.

Note:  If everything is neat and tidy, it doesn’t look natural.  Loosen up your strokes to give your drawing and painting a freedom of expression.

For car example:

First consider the size of the car compared with the immediate objects, buildings, trees or people.

Make a synopsis of your vehicle on a piece of paper:

Consider the perspective of the car: Is it directly facing you? Somewhat like a block shape, the back will be small than the front. Or turned three-quarter away from you? The front corner facing you will be bigger perspectively. To get it into perspective, run diminishing lineal lines down its sides and over its top.

  • The body is a ‘rectangle’ shape with smooth flowing lines.
  • The wheels will be partly covered with mudguards.
  • The shape and angles of the windows will depend on the model of the car.

Once you have made the synopsis, cut it out and place it on your painting. Does it fit perspectively and comfortably in your painting? If not, make another one, this time the right size. Repeat if necessary to get the right size.

Note: And of cause the colour of your vehicle is important. If the colour of the object is analogous to its surrounding colours, it will settle comfortably into place.


If you draw your objects in a simple uncomplicated way, it makes it easier to compose your composition. Without the complexity of finer details, it makes it easier to visualize the enormity of your composition.

If you use light colours draw in your synopsis shapes, you can easily shift their position if necessary, if you are not happy with your first placement decision. The replacement or shift, must of cause be made at the while composing you composition, That is, before you start piling on thick paint, defining the shapes and adding finer details.

Each object that is placed in your composition must sit comfortably with its nearest neighbour. The tangent space or links between objects is important, in their relation to each other. That is, there should be easy flowing lines or transitions between and through them, so that the object of your painting is easily ‘read’.

Now for practice:

Start by looking around you, at the things you’ve always taken for granted.

  • How can you simplify what you are looking at?
  • What are the basic shapes and linear directive lines?
  • What is the basic skeleton structure?
  • Which way do the lines lean? How do they flow?
  • And then consider how to simply the drawing-in of your composition’s format.
  • Where would you put the biggest or boldest shape?

Last word:

If the foundation of your composition is good and strong, the rest of the painting will fall into place and it will be a pleasure painting it.

And you know what I’m going to say?

Great artists weren’t made overnight. The more you practice observing shapes and practice your drawing skills, the more they will improve.

So draw as often as you can, the things you see around you. Make it a game, something fun to do, like doodling while waiting for something to happen.

If you too have a question to ask:

Feel free to put it in the comments block below, or email it to me at:

Art: What is a Perfect Composition?

First of all: What is A COMPOSITION?

Composition! This question may surprise some folks who are familiar with artistic terms, but still it provokes a great many other questions of importance, if you want your paintings to sell well and quickly!

So what is a composition?

  • To the general public they would perhaps associate the word composition with composers of music. An arrangement of score that makes up a beautiful melody.
  • Or perhaps the composing of poetry!
  • To artists it’s an arrangement or placement of elements or things in a picture. And how those elements should interact comfortably and flow effortlessly through the composition (just like a melody of music).
  • The fact is, artists are composers too.
Its all about composition.

A5 watercolour: A field of wild lavender.

That leads to the second question: What is A PERFECT COMPOSITION?

Haw, now that is debatable!

Why? Because artists have different opinions on what they favour. That is: it depends on their style of work and how their imagination pans out.

But here are the basics:

  • The selection of the boldest shapes take command of the scene.
  • Smaller shapes are supportive.
  • And fine details are reduced and selected according to their directive and decorative need. And of cause the selection of detail is at your discretion depending on your subject matter and style.
  • Variation of shapes and their size is important. Everything is the same shape and size within the composition, it gives the painting a regimental stiff appearance.

As to format:

The best compositions are those which are simple and uncomplicated, because they make the most impact and are easier to ‘read’. That requires simplifying planes down to three major planes: background, middle-ground and foreground.

  • These planes can lie or interact horizontally or transverse vertically.
  • The important thing is to have one plane more prominent than the other two, and one  with strong contrast. That can be  within the same plane or not.
  • Generally speaking: Each plane seeming to have its own basic or general overall tone level. That is: one light tone, one medium tone and one dark tone plane. The order doesn’t matter, as long as the main point of interest is attractive by contrast.

As to action and creating life in your paintings:

Besides shapes, lines and brushstrokes are read unconsciously like shorthand.

  • Oblique lines or slopes suggest action.
  • Crossed oblique lines suggest opposition and inter-action.
  • Varied and diminutive zigzag lines describe action, growth and lineal perspective.
  • Wavy Hogarthian lines create flow and movement.
  • Varied arabesque lines, whether curved Lyric or scrolled lines, they create flow of reasoning.

As to visual perception:

  • The main point of interest is generally in focus or in contrast.
  • And the outer edges of the painting out-of-focus.
  • Thus creating a tunnel effect, that draws people into your picture.
  • Of cause atmospheric conditions play a huge part in perspective.

So what about colour?

Is it important when discussing composition? Yes. And Why?

  • If the colours are mainly dull with close analogous hues, the painting will look flat and is boring.
  • There must be impact of colour to attract peoples’ attention in the gallery.

So how should that be done?

  • The first thing most people would say is: contrast of tone and colour.
  • But also contrast of warm and cool colours.

If you have other questions you would like to ask, first consider reading the introduction page:

Click on: Questions & Answer page.

How Do You Handle Criticism?

How Do You Handle Criticism?

First endeavours blown!!

You have just finished painting a picture and you are feeling good about it, and then along someone and you hoped they would give you a positive valuation. But instead, can you believe it, they criticize it!   ……I bet you feel like screaming!!

Handling criticism as artists

A5 watercolour: The glow of the sunrise touches every living thing. “Let sunshine shine in your hearts today”

Criticism can be so hurtful. Like a balloon that has just popped, you feel empty. All the faith you had in your ability to paint …has just evaporated.

Wow! You wondered why you even asked for their opinion. Why did they pull it apart and dissect it like that? They spoilt it all for you!  ….It isn’t long before you’re getting angrier and angrier at their unkind remarks. Don’t they know your whole heart was in that painting? And now you don’t feel like changing anything about it ….just to spite them.

How do you handle criticism?

You ask yourself, “Did their criticism help?” “Did their advice really apply in this case?”

  • Maybe you think to yourself: “Perhaps they are right, I’m a lousy artist,” and then decide to give up and never paint again?
  • Or you try to explain to them what you were really trying to do? That the horse you painted wasn’t a mouse or cat as they said! And have them look more closely at, with what looks like a puzzled look of pity on their blank faces?
  • Or give them a mouthful and tell them to `hop it and get lost’? Only to have them retort, “Don’t get all worked up, we were only trying to be helpful!”
  • Then you remember they’ve never painted anything themselves, so what do they know? And then decide to `take it with a pinch of salt’ and dismiss their silly remarks.
  • Or perhaps turn the painting to the wall and start another painting, something altogether different, in the hopes it will turn out better than the last effort, hey?

No matter what people may think of you and your paintings, remember:

  • Some people can’t look at anything without finding fault. It’s in their nature. Some people excuse this behaviour as, `I’m a perfectionist’!
  • Yes some people do expect everything in paintings must be perfect, full of precise detail and look authentically like the visual-aid photograph you were painting from. They don’t want paintings, they want enlarged photos!
  • Some people are critical because they are jealous or just plain spiteful. It gives them a thrill to act superior and put other people down.
  • Some people don’t approve of your art because they think art is just a hobby and you are wasting your (their) time!
  • Not all people are professional artists. But keep it in mind each has a personal art preference. Some people like abstracts, bright colours and stark shapes. And others like paintings to look authentic, with mellow moody scenes. And some are just looking for something that vibes madly with their décor.
  • And then again, some people are trained art critics. Think again about what they have to say. Maybe their advice could improve your talent.

Conclusive judgement on criticism:

Judge the situation before jumping to conclusions.

  • Everyone has their own opinion of what art should be. Not everyone will agree with you or see your point of view.
  • And the way your painting turned out, isn’t what you initially had in mind anyway. So what?! Let them think what they like you enjoy messing around with what you do.
  • Even if your art isn’t wonderful at this point of time, remember talent is a growing thing. The more you practice your craft the more it improves, and your personal expression and techniques evolve with time.

 You count:

No matter what your style of art is, it feels good to experiment and use your imagination.

Like any author, film producer or even a fashion designer, we wouldn’t have new technology if it wasn’t for people who used their imagination and ventured beyond present know-how.

Artists see something that stirs their imagination and from that moment of initial visionary impact, a concept is born and their talent and abilities take over. The end result is what the general public enjoys today.

So don’t give up, you are on a journey to success. Act the part, feel the part, live the part. As the saying goes, `Fake it, till you make it’.  Believing in yourself helps to make the transition come about.

Are you being who you want to be, or are you doing what other people assume, or you’re conned into believing who you are?!

Handling criticism as artists

A5 watercolour: When you travel through life see the beauty of nature all around you.

Would love your input on this subject of criticism:

What do you think and react when people criticize your work? Feel free to leave your comment in the comment-box provided below.

For more info on how to become a famous artist, click on the page “Fame & fortune” and follow-up on the blog categories as well, listed down the sidebar on the page.

Do what you love most


is all about your attitude, enthusiasm, action and emotions….

Love what you are doing

A5 watercolour: Misty river scene.

Love starts with attitude:

Whatever you love, that is what you will enjoy doing. When you enjoy what you are doing, things generally go more smoothly because your heart and soul is in it. You are having such fun that you don’t want to stop.

Your enthusiasm empowers you. If you happen to make a mistake it doesn’t worry you so much, your enthusiasm carries you on, trying again and again until you get it right or get the effect you want.

For example, I love art so much I can’t stop doing research. If I get an idea in my head, I delve into every aspect of the subject. Like `a dog with a bone’ I can’t leave the concept alone, seeking for the truth in Nature, in the world around me. Gathering theories and seeing if they jell competitively in charts or diagrams, using word play to summarize notes.

Theory on its own is no use if you can’t use it in your paintings, so I experiment with the concept or technique physically, either proving it or rejecting what doesn’t work. That’s not all, I can’t stop there, I keep building on the concept and techniques until I have new concept or technique. The whole process gives me such pleasure that I’m always looking for more stuff to do research on. That brings me to the point:

Paint what turns-on your creativity:

If you love painting a certain technique or subject matter, it empowers your artistic intuition and dexterity. If you can’t find what you like painting most, consider:

  • What colour or combinations of colours turn on your enthusiasm: warm or cool colours, contrast or gradation of colours, bright or mellow colours?
  • What atmospheric weather conditions in any given scene pleases you most: bright sunny or overcast days, dramatic or misty scenes?
  • What type of subject matter do you prefer? Stark abstract concepts, still-life setups, birds, flowers, landscapes, marshlands, seascapes, stream or river scenes, what
  • Does size and detail matter? When you go to a gallery or museum, which do you prefer: big complex compositions or small uncluttered canvases?
  • Which artist’s work do you admire the most? What do you like about his or her style? Is it because the artist painted fine detailed work or because of their free-flowing dexterity?

Putting it all together:

Write your answers down on paper and consider the facts. And if the collective deduction of the facts builds a conceivable visual conclusion, go with that as your possible style of painting.

  • When you are happy doing what you do, your tension and dexterity loosens up and your creative powers start flowing. Once your creativity loosens up you start building your own personal style of working.
  • Painting what you like brings out the best of you and your talent glows with your pleasure. It is this `glowing pleasure’ that attracts people attention to your art. They feel your pleasure and people buy with their emotions.

Conclusive talent:

What you enjoy painting most, that will bring out the best of you and your talent glows with your pleasure. It is this `glowing pleasure’ that attracts people attention to your art. They feel your pleasure and if you rightly remember, people buy with and according to their emotions and senses. If you are aware of the emotional side of art, you will begin to see how your sales can improve.


Love what you are doing

A5 watercolour: A little imagination and a zing of colour.

The ecstasy of creating in the moment:

If your heart is fully in what you are painting, you will find your intuitive senses heightened. You are so hyped up on the power of creativity you feel, that nothing deters you from the moment of creativity. You are actually living in the moment, a time-warp so to speak, in the scene you are creating.

Everything and everybody in the physical world is forgotten. You’re feeling the dimension and atmospheric mood and flow of colours, your imagination runs wild; it carries you on and on. The feeling is so powerful and wonderful you unconsciously don’t wish it to end. You are now living in the scene and its part of you.

Action brings results:

This state of affairs causes you to loosen up your dexterity, and to other people your brush seems to flourish as though you are wielding a wand! So much so that they think your brush has magic and desire to get one just like yours. Meanwhile you have used the brush so often that you know what it can or can’t do, and of cause your state of expertise is really enhanced by living in the moment of creativity, that is, doing what you love most.

Please let us know:

Not just me but other artists out there, how as artists have you experienced this power of creativity? How were your emotions involved? And how has your emotions affected your talent and sales?

For more about making your paintings exciting, start by checking out ‘Art and Fame‘ page and category listing.

Quality of Modern Art?

What type of modern art do you like?

  • Morden abstract art
  • Fine art
  • Authentic realistic art
  • Impressionistic art
  • Cartoon art
  • Naive art
  • Ethic art
  • Surreal art
  • Weird art

    Modern art

    Oil painting of Dutch Cape styled house in the town of McGregor. Late afternoon with mist coming over the Riviersonderend mountains.

Modern art: What is out there today?

Sometimes you walk into a gallery and what do you see, but a bright kitsch rudimentary painting hung in a prominent position. You’re stunned, can’t believe it, how can they pass that as art? Why is the gallery promoting it? Perhaps the artist is a relative they’re trying to help out?

And modern art on the internet: most of the artist’s websites these days seem to lean towards abstract or naive art. What has become of art? What is considered art? It seems art doesn’t have to be a painting or a carved statue. Photographs and anything that is a creative artifact is accepted as art.

Google has a wide selection of images of art, including works of the old masters. Thankfully you can ask for a selection of aesthetic watercolours, oil paintings or pastels, depending on what you would really like to see. And there are some wonderful works of art, showing there are still professional artists out there with exceptional style.

 What is happening to the quality of modern art?

We have to remember there are a lot of artists out there, each with diverse inclinations and aptitude skills. We mustn’t discourage budding artists, we all had to progress through practical experience. And trends come and go according local and global fashions and environment issues.

What I like:

I think art should be something between reality and fantasy.  Aesthetic brushstrokes and detail contrasting with blurred atmospheric conditions. Paintings with emotional impact that stir your senses, every time you look at it you see something new or fascinating about it. And as my husband says, “Paintings which you can spin a story”

It seems this is a somewhat controversial subject! Everyone to their own taste and opinion!

 What do you think of modern art and what you think it should be?

What are your first impressions of modern art? What is so dynamic that grips your attention? What is your personal preference? What appeals to you? Colour combinations, line, mood, what?

What artists’ websites would you seek out and what would keep you going back to see what they are doing on their sites? Is it their talent? Or is it the way their website is set out? What is it they have on their sites? Is it their type of content? Is it entertaining, interesting or factual, what?

If you aren’t an artist, what message would you like to send out to artists?

Love to hear from you…

PR agent’s assistance?

Need PR agent to assist?

Your art is only as good as your publicity presence. As an artist, do you intent to stagnate ‘in a small pond’ forever, or `swim out to sea’ and become a renowned international artist?

How committed are you? Can you do it on your own? Besides time to paint, have you spare time to do your own promotions, advertising, etc. If your art is considered fantastic and you haven’t a patron, perhaps you could find yourself a professional PR to handle media, exhibit promotions, etc?

There is a difference between agents. Singers and actors are also considered artists. We are talking about agents that specialize in promoting fine visual art artists. There are very few. Some countries don’t even have any. Most PR agents in the telephone book (yellow pages) do business seminars and design project T-shirts! So it may be hard to find one that exclusively promotes artists.

Some galleries do have in-house public relation officers. It’s usually the more prominent galleries that do this. If only more galleries understood the need for agents. Should an artist become a renowned artist, not only are they promoting the artist but also the prestige of their gallery.

When searching for an art agent consider their track record. How effective are they? Which of their artists are renowned artists now? Where are they based, is it conveniently within your district and what of their international influence? What is their website prospectus like? What style of the art do they promote? Who are they promoting presently and how are they doing it? Are there links to their artists’ websites?

 Watercolour landscape for PR blogWhat genuine art PR agents do:

Generally public relations officers promote you in the media, such as newspapers, magazines, catalog, and organize TV appearances, etc. On the other hand, art agents should have extensive knowledge of art. Not only give you media coverage, but are able to organize exhibits, workshop seminar tours and act as art book publication agents.

The best art PRs know how to advise artists. That is, how artist should project themselves and how to magnify their talent. That means having:

  • An awareness of the soul of the artist and their creativity abilities, ie how much pressure impacts on the artist’s emotional stability and creative powers.
  • Understanding of the emotional side of art, ie knowledge of the sensational side of art and how it impacts on the senses of the viewing public.
  • The agent must have sensitive intuition when suggesting new creative projects. And be able to describe and convey concepts to the artist, so that the artist can catch and translate the vision and beauty of the concept the agent has in mind.

 To acquire a PR agent you need to produce a good CV record:

  • An extraordinary portfolio of your artwork: As a presentation have catalog computer images of your art on CD or memory stick.
  • Personal details: Your name, birth date and contact address, email, website and phone numbers.
  • You will need a history of your art activities and rewards.
  • List of galleries who exhibited and sold your work.
  • If your circumstances are humble, it shouldn’t matter if your art is fantastic and your personality is fascinating.
  • You should be able to describe your art and summarize what you intend to achieve.
  • Anecdotes: Add interesting background facts, dramatic and funny incidents that happened to you or about your art that can be used in TV interviews or presented in newspapers and magazines.
  • Have your record and presentations proof read before submission.


You and your PR need to get on well together and work as a team. You need to be able to take and handle criticism and rejection laudably. Be willing to work your butt off to keep up with what’s happening.

Once you have started on the road to success, you can’t crawl back into your comfort zone . If you think you can’t take the pressure, reconsider your goals and situation. Whatever you do, the bottom line is: you are the master of your future!

Building Connections

So many ways of building connections:

As an artist you most probably enjoy `doing your thing’. That is, taking time out to paint as often as you can, forever exploring new concepts and perfecting your style and talent. You enjoy painting so much you can’t help yourself, it’s `in your blood’, so naturally you think and breathe it all the time. Each painting you paint is `your baby’, something you’ve been passionately working on.


But will you ever get around to selling it? What do you think your art is worth? It’s fantastic, dynamic, remarkable, the best!?

Inspired by a South Aftrican scene.

The bottom line is your art isn’t worth anything unless it is sold!

  • No one knows what your talent is like, unless they see it. Seeing is believing! Ultimately people don’t support or back you unless they feel passionately about your art, see that you have unique talent and how committed you are.
  • Also it’s who you know! Network and build connections. Socializing is like `throwing a stone in water and watching the ripples spread and expand’.
  • Oh and capital: Money begets money! You won’t go very far without substantial finances. Framing, wall space in galleries and advertising costs money.
  • Personality counts! Do you have charisma? How do you come across in social events, perhaps on TV shows, etc? Are you an interesting fascinating person? Do you know what you are talking about? 5)  Appearance does count! It’s strange but people also tend to judge an artist’s talent by the artists appearance! What you wear and your body language.
  • Fame means taking up challenges, doing research, being extra observant, creating extraordinary unique work.
  • Folks want to know if you are still painting. I get asked this often. They are so busy coping with their families and careers, that they forget to keep in touch. Keeping people in touch means keep `throwing in more stones in the pond. Making not only ripples but waves in the sea’.
  • Once you are famous people expect you to keep up production. Like writing a best seller, once people love the quality and style of your work, they want more and more, quicker and quicker.

Building connections the right way:

Status connections:

Building connections isn’t easy. If you are starting out selling your art, a lot of galleries won’t accept you unless you belong to an art group. They are influenced by the status of the society you associate with, prominent club, school or college you attended. If you need to join an art group or society:

  • Belong to one which has intellectual stimulus and prominent artists demonstrate on a regular basis.
  • Or build a friendly like-minded community group where artists can discuss their latest findings and encourage each other.

Art societies:

Don’t join an art club or art group until you have fully investigated it. In the interest of being choosy of which club to join, be aware of undercurrent, in-house politics and protocol. Such as presidential clicks safe guarding their status:

  • On the surface they are friendly but talent is discredited if they feel threatened by new talent.
  • At exhibits you could possibly find your painting dumped on the floor and someone else’s painting is on your personal easel. Or your painting lands up in a dark corner.
  • Or strangely your newsletter doesn’t arrive or exhibit form gets `lost in the post’.

Other considerations:

  • How often are privileged friends of the committee selected to do demos when a renowned guest artist couldn’t be found?
  • Annual fees may look low at first glance, but consider additional costs that may occur. Such as your turn to provide eats, lending of art books, exhibit fees, etc that you didn’t anticipate.

If you can’t find or join an art society, make it happen!

Build your own art group:

Build a network of unbiased artists who take their work seriously. Get-to-gathers somewhat like the Impressionists did, when they gathered at Café Guerbois in Paris.

Where possible include gallery owners, fiscal business men who have an interest in art and also visual media connections into your network. If your group has lots of media coverage and receive favourable criting, your group could possibly become prominent and have some influence on the national market. And possibly, eventually on the international network if it has enough prestige backing.

Open air club:

Organize country trips for the artists of your group to do location fieldwork. The type of setup will depend on the personalities, abilities and finances of the group.

At-home socials:

Less serious arts prefer social gatherings where getting together for a chat is a priority. In this case art is part of the entertainment. Invite people to your home where they can watch demos and where advice is given if called upon. Suggest a theme for each event so they know what to expect and bring for the next meeting, eg:

  • Provide `gallery parties’ that include other artists’ work as well.
  • Provide a happy atmosphere and fun-filled events.
  • Leave catalogue and pamphlets of your meetings at the local library.

Networking with local business owners:

Host a monthly group get together of business men, for light snacks or breakfast, either at your place or at a local restaurant for a pleasant enjoyable meeting.

The objective is for everyone to express what is happening in their business, the latest trends, results of projects they initiated, any funny things that occurred in their business, etc. The point is, it’s a support structure and everyone benefits from `keeping their finger on the pulse’ of what’s happening locally and in the business world.

And how would you benefit as an artist from this business group? Art is also a business. Paintings are sold through the right connections. Example: Professional artwork looks good displayed in reception entrances, illustrates the prestige status of the business. Doctors like paintings hanging in their consulting rooms, seminar venues and lodges like art décor, and décor firms need a supply of good art, etc. Paintings can be sold out right or exchange on a monthly contract.

We all have different lifestyles and needs:

Whatever your setup you decide on, consider your spouse and circumstances. How would it fit into your way of living? Are you a loner, do you need more time to produce the work you do? What goals do you have?

How as an artist did you build your own connections?

For more advice on how to get your art sold, check the Art & Fame page and category.

Using Artistic Talent Agencies

Promoting your artistic talent through talent agencies:

To get your artistic talent recognized, you need to get your work into galleries that have in-house agents who know how to promote your art in the media and attach the right investors. Or you could employ an agent that specializes in promoting artists and their work.

Sunset over marsh.

Elite galleries:

To get accepted into elite galleries you may even have to stand before a board of directors before your work is accepted. The directors often consist of major investors or a selective group of artists.

Their commission is about 40-70 percent, depending on how much and what type of promoting they do, their status and milieu district.

If your art is unknown to art dealers ten-to-one your paintings won’t be hung, but left in the gallery’s back room until they have done some cautious research on you and your marketability. On the other hand it may be reserved in the back room for particular clients’ perusal.

It is up to you to find out what is happening with your art in galleries, if it’s been viewed or promoted in any way. Some gallery don’t know how to or not interested in promoting artists in the media. If your paintings aren’t selling in a gallery remove it straight away and find a more suitable venue. If your art is really good, you want a gallery owner that is really impressed and believes in your talent. Lukewarm attitude never sells a painting!

Private talent agencies:

These guys are generally home based and travel around the country selling to investors and getting consignments into galleries. Their commission depends on assignment contracts, their travelling and accommodation costs.

Your frames can possibly be damaged in transit. The damage rate is higher than shop based galleries. Some agents are not trustworthy. A genuine agent will have insurance and protection coverage and he will keep you informed about peoples’ responses, commissions and sales.

Investment art dealers have strict elite establishments. I smile when I think of one opulent bachelor agent who not only had a secretary but even a snooty butler to fend off lesser artists and clientele!

First off they’ll judge your work against contemporary standards. Secondly your work must have distinct unique style. Why, because people will pay more for your exclusive style. It is your hallmark. If your technique is easily recognizable, people tend to say, “That’s a — (the name of the artist) painting!”

Talent scouts:

In some countries galleries think it worthwhile sending out talent scouts to look for new exciting fresh talent. They know both the gallery and the artist benefit from the use of talent scouts.

Talent scouts attend exhibits, seminars and travel rummaging and ferreting out information about artists. Some even look out for talent at root level to grow future talent. They encourage schools to exhibit, give guidance and advice to possible up and coming generations of artists.

The scouts then report back at least once a week to the gallery. This way the gallery owner gets to know what potential is out there. To keep the business running they must `have their finger on the pulse’ in all areas if they want to be first on new trends, instead of `riding on other people’s second-hand wagons’.


Some artists think their work is sent to the grave when it lands up in a museum, but they forget a greater number of people are likely to see your work there. Children are taken there as part of their education, tourists go there and people like to use it as a meeting place or idle away the hours there.

It’s an endorsement of the value of your work. Also in symbolic terms a narrative and cultural contribution to society. In the long-term, ie the time it hangs there, means your talent will be revered many centuries.

And artists go to museums to learn technique from the masters. That’s what I did as a youngster. Every time I was in town and had spare time before catching the train home, I would wonder around from room to room, relishing in each painting. And then stand or sit down in front of a chosen painting for that particular day and scrutinize each and every brushstroke, how they composed the composition, what colour scheme they used, etc. I learnt such a lot from those great masters. At one time (while still at school) one of my paintings hung in that Durban central museum due to a competition held by the educational department. It was very inspiring. My love of art grew from those experiences.

Club venues:

If artists want to start an art club they need to club together, pool resources and share exhibits to reduce overhead costs.

There are different types of art clubs:

1)  Exclusive gallery: This is where 6-16 professional artists get together and set up a gallery in a prestigious position in an affluent district. Prospective artists are interviewed and their work assessed by the initial board members to see if they fit in with the existing members.

2)  Watercolourists Societies: Each month members attend demonstrations done by other artists. As to exhibits, your work is judged before each exhibit and a selection is picked from entries. Traditionally no opaque pigments are allowed. Commission fees on exhibit sales are dependent on the overheads of the venue.

3)  Art class exhibits are an incentive for member students to attend regularly. The teacher asks for an additional fee towards renting exhibit venues. A good time for exhibits is during a cultural festival or librarian cultural week in the local civic centre.

4)  Open-market studios: Artists get together and rent a hall or empty factory space, on a regular basis. At the race track or a public through-fare, where the general public can view them at work. Each artist has his or her own stall where they can display their work framed or unframed. The venue should have good natural lighting and good parking facilities.

5)  Community meander: A group of artists living within a certain area get together and provide a communal map pamphlet and submit it to the regional tourist board. The artists must make their homes and studios interesting and fascinating, to make it a worthwhile visit by tourists.

6)  Exotic venue: You can integrate the above to suit your milieu and environmental conditions. This market complex venue has more than one avenue of art promotion and types of trading facilities. Where a group or community of artists provide different experiences where the public can easily meander from shop to shop. For example: possible tourist trading during the day, refreshment centre and club for artists, seminars and night art classes, and even close by accommodation for country location fieldwork.


  • Do you have talent scouts in your country? What do you think could be done more to find unknown artists with exceptional talent?
  • How young artists are taught art and inspired in your country? Do local artists go to schools and demonstrate their personal techniques?
  • What has been your personal experience as a young artist? What inspired you?
  • How do artists get together in your community? What is so special or effective in your `market place’

Hope you find my art blogs informative and interesting. For more advice on getting your art sold, check out the Art & Fame page.

Dealing with Art Galleries

Wishful thinking:

Just because family and friends think your artwork is wonderful, they think that all you have to do is to walk into an art gallery and wham all your paintings will sell like hot cakes!

When you hear someone say that,  do you silently screeeeeam? And think, how could they be so naive?

Watercolour landscape.

Watercolour landscape.

Dealing with art galleries: 

Getting into art galleries isn’t easy. Especially when you are a beginner, and even if you have been selling your work over a number of years. The art world is a tough cookie to crack. It’s not necessary your skill that’s in question.  There is a lot of artists out there and a lot of modus operandi protocol behind the scenes.  It’s like getting lost in a forest, it’s  bewildering.

You have to do research before going to galleries:

  • Are you fully prepared with an exceptional portfolio? Have you got an impressive exhibit CV? If not what have you got that demonstrates your extraordinary talent?
  • What are galleries selling? That is: what is the present trend? Is your art exciting and where does your style fit in with the galleries you visited?
  • If they are international operative galleries, naturally they will only be interested in renowned artists. They will expect a high part of your commission percentage.
  • What is the gallery owner like? You have to consider what future dealings with them will be like? What is his or her etiquette ethics? Did they push their luck and bully you into taking a ridiculously low commission? Respect is needed on both sides.
  • Can you handle rejection with panache? If they were rude, don’t `burn your bridges’, be polite, you never know what the future holds!
  • What price range and commission percentage does the gallery expect? What does it cost you to produce your art and what profit margin are you expecting to stay in business?
  • Are you prepared to work long hours producing new concepts on a regular basis? How many good paintings can you produce per week and per month without producing the same type of composition format over and over again?
  • Do you have appropriate social demeanour experience to handle public and media interviews? People expect artists to be interesting. That is: know how to express themselves, be news worthy, etc.

General art galleries:

If your talent looks amateurish galleries will most probably turn you away. They give all sorts of excuses. Some are polite and others are impolite. So make sure the quality of your work is up to standard.

I’ve come across some plush looking galleries, only to find them full of amateurs’ work or kitsch creations. Your first thought will most probably be, “It’s quite amazing what the public buy and willing to pay”. Another thought may enter your mind, “Perhaps it’s a relative, who has the owner’s patronage?”

Even though the quality of your work is far better than what is in the gallery, they may still turn you away, it’s because they are nervous of new unknown artists. It seems a vicious circle without a beginning doesn’t it!

Ten-one your thought is: “How do you  make it big time, if every gallery still thinks you are a beginner?”

But the gallery owner has to consider his situation. “Are you worth the risk?” they gallery owners ask themselves. Are  you a hot commodity or not? How well will your paintings sell?

Galleries’ Status:

What type of district is the gallery in? High society or medium to poor? This has an effect on the price range and milieu preferences.

What sells well in one gallery, may not sell at all in another gallery. Each gallery has a certain market niche and style of work in their shop, because it’s their clienteles’ preference. Whether it is high quality fine art, abstract, naive or ethnic, etc?

For any avant-garde gallery to prosper, it needs to be in a more influential affluent district. These galleries are well-known for a certain type of art and their clients often travel further to obtain that eminence.

Galleries in residential areas are inclined to sell more domestic compositions. South African galleries along tourist routes tend sell wildlife paintings and ethnic curio carvings. Does your style and subject matter fit into a certain milieu?

Corporate businesses want huge dynamic pictures to make impressive direct impact, in their entrance halls. Their décor advertises their type of style of business and what it stands for. It must `smell’ of wealth and success.

So make sure your credentials appropriate to the gallery you are approaching.

 What is your talent worth?

Gallery owners have huge overheads to pay to keep their galleries open. If a dealer doesn’t think your paintings will sell or that there isn’t enough profit margin, he won’t take in your paintings.

Some gallery owners are very greedy, wiry and crafty. They will try to browbeat you until you accept lower and lower prices: such low prices that it doesn’t cover the cost of the materials to produce the paintings. They are trying to see how desperate you are.

They will tell you that the present economy of the country is so poor, that you can’t expect anything better, anywhere else either!. Or their client milieu isn’t wealthy to afford your prices. Be wise to what’s happening, and if their bargaining persists, you know your work is of worth to them.

So know what your talent is worth. Check the going-price range for similar talent and set your price a little higher than you expect in that milieu, as a bargaining leverage.


You need friendly workable team-ship between you and the gallery. So know what you letting yourself in for.

Personally I won’t go back to a gallery if the owner was rude and came across impatient or rude, because future dealing with them would probably be of the same nature.

Most galleries take paintings on consignment because very few galleries have backing capital to buy paintings. And because sales fluctuate they operate as art traders.

When accepting a consignment deal, remember if your paintings don’t sell you will still have to pay for the framing they put on your painting. Therefore, try to keep your paintings to standard sizes so that your paintings can be replaced by another painting of yours in the same frame.

There are two types of consignments. The other, is producing a certain amount of paintings for the gallery each month. If the amount is too much and you can’t keep up with the demand sooner or later, your capability to think up new composition concepts will dry up. You must know your capabilities and be realistic of how much you can produce in a week, let alone a month.

Some gallery owners actually provide studios and nurture their artists in order to keep sales flourishing. Mainly because the artist is really good, but very poor. Under their roof they know you are indebted to them for their generosity.

For more info on how to sell your art, check out the page Art & Fame.


Selling Art Direct to the Public

“What type of paintings sell best?”

Have you ever wondered about the paintings hanging in galleries? You can see the gallery is open but is it doing business? How are the paintings selling? Which paintings sell quickest?art








What should I be painting?

What hangs in galleries doesn’t necessary mean it’s selling. You are not there every day to see what’s selling or not, or what people prefer.

To find out what really sells, go to the grassroots. Sell direct to the public yourself. You don’t have to own a gallery though. Let people watch you paint on location, doing fieldwork at popular public places, along the tourist trade routes, etc. If they like what you are doing, they will want to buy it! Be your own ambassador. Have a neat portfolio and business cards on hand for any future commissions or inquiries.

Working directly with the public gives you a `hands on’ approach. Ultimately the public counts. Remember the public’s taste constantly changes. Subject matter and colour taste fluctuate according to fashion, events, politics, economics, and seasonal trends.

Hearing the truth:

I have a warped sense of humour. I like to walk unnoticed behind people as they peruse my art work to observe their reactions.

If they say your work is fantastic, ask them what they like most about it. If there are derogatory remarks, ask them what they don’t like about it. Not knowing who you are, they will give you their honest opinion. Sometimes they point out something you haven’t noticed before. Look at it as an enriching moment. You are seeing things through their eyes.  If more than one set of people makes the same comment, you have something to consider or cheer about.

Making adjustments:

Once you know what the public likes about your work, combine those positives and promote that type of style. This opens up a new niche in the market place and the public spreads the word for you. The more you sell direct to the public, the more the galleries get framing orders for your work, the more likely the galleries will start noticing how popular you are.

Be willing to do demos:

Don’t be shy and hide yourself in your studio. Be willing to get out there and show what you made of. Actions speak louder than words.

Do demos at art shops and galleries. Paint murals and accept seminar assignments. Enjoy the fun of sharing your talent with others. I found, the more you help others and share, the more everyone benefits, including yourself. Proverbs 11:24-25.

Don’t worry about people watching. People are fascinated by creative activities and your courage to do it in public. You never know who is watching you. It could be a prospective buyer. If you are concerned about professional artists watching, don’t worry, keep an open mind, most people can’t paint or they want to learn a new technique.

Don’t worry about someone pinching your style or technique either. Art is like a fingerprint. Everyone’s dexterity differs according to personality, skill and materials available to them. The combination of perception and concept of the procedure differs from person to person. Choice of subject matter and composition format varies according to knowledge, temperament, personal view and the pressure or conditions people work under.

Create a network:

They say it’s easier to get a job if you have the right connections. It’s also true with art.

  • Be outgoing, sociable, and build good relationships with everyone you meet. When people ask what you are doing presently, be brief but enthusiastic about it. If they want your website details, be fully equipped with business cards for such eventualities. You never know who is likely to buy your art or who their connections are.
  • Be willing to take on challenges: But listen carefully to requests and be sensible as to your capabilities. Make sure your art is good before showing it to the public. If you take commissions you must be able to fulfil requirements people request.
  • No matter where you live, with the technology we have today, you can sell on the internet media websites, and publicize `by word of mouth’ on Facebook, Twitter, etc

If you want to know more about selling your art, go to page Art & Fame.

First steps to success.

First: Where do I begin?

  • Nothing happens unless you draw and paint on a regular basis.
  • You have to believe in yourself and your talent in spite of the fact there are so many artists out there.
  • Ignore possible competitors, do your own thing and build your own style.
  • Following trends will make you a carbon-copy artist, you’ll be judged against the artist’s work you are copying. You get noticed when you paint something different and unique.
  • Copy what you see in the scenery before you, from magazine images, etc makes you a copy artist. But it’s far more fascinating using your imagination and go beyond the expected.
  • To bring out the dynamics of what you see, you have to be sensitive to the emotional possibilities within reality.
  • You don’t achieve anything unless you are willing to take up challenges. To take up a challenge you must know what you are capable of doing and how far you can push yourself.
  • If you stick to doing the same things, you fall into a rut. Development and progress growth comes from doing research and testing new concepts.
  • On the road to fortune or poverty? You can’t become famous if you are happily going down the road of failure. Make time to be creative in. Don’t waste time or money on unnecessary stuff and distractions.
  • Plan your route, check your transport, do you have the right ticket? Be flexible: read the signposts along the way and change course if necessary to obtain your goal destination.
First fieldwork

A4 Location watercolour: Sheep across the valley to where Ada used to live in the country.

Four basic work ethics:

  1. First: Be selective in what you paint. That is don’t crowd your work with unnecessary fussy detail. Think bold concepts.
  2. It takes courage to start on a new painting on blank paper or canvas. But once begun, enjoy living and creating within the moment of creativity, within that world of fantasy it’s creating.
  3. Loosen up, let your pencil or brush flow. Go with the flow as it takes on its own personality.
  4. Don’t be scared to use your imagination. When people look at your work they like to use their imagination and fabricate on what they see.

Buying art is like buying real estate:

An unknown artist has very little chance of getting his work into established galleries.You have to start small: A good investment is to `buy a humble home in a plush neighbourhood and then do it up’.

Your art must have sensational quality to catch the eye and be of high standard, to be a good investment. People want to see how you handle yourself and project your business before they will think of investing. And how you got where you are and your prospects for the future.

What size fish are you?

Beginners are like small fish in a big pond. Aspiring must first learn how to swim in bigger ponds (ie local market place). The once the pond gets too small for you, you have to swim out to sea (ie internal market place). Do you want to stay a small fish or do you want to grow into a bigger fish?

First learn your craft well. Don’t exhibit shoddy work. Visit the best galleries to check what’s really happening in the art world. Compare that with what you are presently producing. Edit your paintings ruthlessly.

The old masters were beginners once too. They also produced bad work, but they threw it out or burnt it. That’s why we think they only produced good stuff.

Start with charitable campaigns:

Draw and paint for your friends. Paint what they like. If they esteem your work they will recommend you to others by word of mouth. Paint freezes for dances, backdrops for stage productions, whatever. Often as not they supply the materials, so you only have to enjoy the spreading of good news.

When you do start selling, keep your prices low at first, it’s like paying for advertising. But make sure the price covers the replacement of your material costs.

Leadership qualities:

People who choose to `sit in the back row’ want to be inconspicuous. No one will see your talent there in the dark. Don’t just `sit around `in the back row’ hoping you will be famous and wishing your art would sell.

Don’t be scared of success. `Sit in the front row’ and be seen. Participate in events. Submit stories and pictures to your local newspaper and included people who took part in the events. This invites them to sit with you in the front row! In this world we need each other. A team is better than a lonely road to success.

If you want to learn more about becoming a successful artist, check out the page Art & Fame

What Makes a Famous artist?

What makes an artist famous?

Is it because you have natural talent, brilliant artistic flair? Have an impressive portfolio for gallery acceptance. Have the right composition format. Your paintings have impact and your style is unique.


What do you think makes an artist famous?

  • Do you think having the right connections helps?  Friends or family who owns a gallery? You have a `bishop’ (sponsor) that believes in your talent or you have a great PR agent?
  • Do you think it is okay to be self-taught or have attended university, had the opportunity to go to prestige art colleges in Europe, or trained by a famous artist in Paris?
  • Had a talented background: Won art prizes while at school and internationally. Have a list of noteworthy galleries on your CV where you exhibited at.
  • Having plenty of capital to back your talent, like owning your own gallery and paying for regular advertising?
  • Lucky to have a fascinating out-going character. Be able to tell great stories and experiences to divulge on TV?
  • Being in the right place at the right time?
  • Belong to a renowned prestige art group or painted a famous celebrity’s portrait commission?
  • Media platform: Published art books and magazines or seen doing impressive demos on YouTube.

Artistic flair:

Over and above knowledge of composition rules, the artist must have free aesthetic expression and unique style. Fussy detail and neat sharp contours is a sign of an amateur.

Social networking:

Observe edict policies before joining art groups. But that doesn’t stop you building your own social group with other like-minded artists. And as to your personality –you must be an interesting person to interview, know what you are talking about, without coming across as pushy and aggressive.


Your background and connections do count to some degree. But if you are self-taught (done a lot of research) paint often and your talent is really good, it’s likely that someday someone, somewhere, will believe in your art too. If you persist and market your art frequently. Believe in yourself. Life is what you make of it.

Seen doing your thing:

No one knows you are a good artist unless they see your talent! It’s great to have your own gallery but you need time to produce your artwork. People like to watch artists doing demos or painting out on location, like painting along the sea-shore, doing stage production props or restaurant murals, etc. This gives you the opportunity to be a `big fish in a small pond’ before been accepted as a `great big whale out at sea’.

Celebrity commissions:

It’s not easy getting celebrity portraits unless the standard of your work is well-known. And you have examples of your work to show agents. When meeting with the celebrity and actually doing their portrait, don’t waste their time, be fully prepared with the right equipment, colour swathes, etc before you or they the appointed venue.

Prosperity beliefs:

Most people believe an artist isn’t a good artist unless he or she dresses weird! Some people like ethnic art and think the in-thing is for an artist to live in a hut. On the other hand some believe success is seen as having a posh car and house. Art is an expensive career, so shouldn’t matter where you live. The superiority of your talent should count!

Do you agree with any of these statements?

What do you think? Have you something to add? Looking forward to your comments, whether you are an artist or not. Maybe you have a success story of your own to share with us, what you did to put yourself out there?