Many years ago, almost in a different life it seems, I used to buy and sell English paintings of the late Victorian and Edwardian era, including many watercolours. I used to buy at auctions, up and down the country and sell them in my shop in West Malling High Street, at Art and Antique fairs at country house venues and the NEC Birmingham, where there were 600 + exhibitors and also later, on the internet.
Viewing auctions often meant rummaging in ramshackle barns and cold warehouses, looking for a gem amongst the dross and detritus on view. Often, I would look underneath the heavily laden tables and find a cardboard box, from someone’s attic and spot a collection of drawings or watercolours, many of them badly marked by damp or foxed, (rust marks from acidic papers). I used to go through these wondering whose they were and if they had passed away, and was this indeed the sum total of their life’s drawing and painting efforts.
That seemed so sad to me, but I kept looking, because I knew someone who had found a folio of Augustus John drawings in a box at the very same auction room, for less than £5 some years earlier. (they now sell for about £2,000 each). So I was being hopeful, but at the same time I was determined that my own scribblings and attempts at painting shouldn’t end up the same way, when I’m gone.
Some useful lessons were learned! If you want your art works to end up on peoples walls, and not languish in those old dusty boxes, or attics, you have to get a little commercial, and create paintings people want to keep, enjoy and cherish for many years to come.
Many of those old drawings and watercolours were created in a ‘black and white age’ when tastes were very different, but by the end of the millennium, they were looking rather tired and dated. I did manage to find a few gems which sold rather well in London and Paris, but that’s another story.
While we are talking colour, here’s a recent painting of mine, showing some London Traffic trying to get about, the busy streets, with typical red London double decker buses, black cabs, vans etc, all very colourful, and in a modern manner. It is an Original Acrylic Painting on stretched canvas and is now in my online gallery. See my website or click the picture for full details.