Category Archives: The Art Business

Making and Selling Work

A Potpourri of Observations

This weeks photo challenge is ‘extra’.  Last week I posted off a package of work for a mixed show in Jersey, in the Channel Island, as a guest artist in Observations with Art in the Frame, at The Harbour Gallery, opening this weekend.  I hope the show goes well.

So I present a few ‘extras’ for you: a potpourri selection of details from some of the work I sent off as my contribution.  (click on images for a larger view).

Seven + One, concertina ‘book’

From the Ancient Landscape Series:

Divided Cells:



From the Membrane Portals Series:

For other ‘extras’, see here.



Filed under Art Works, Exhibitions, The Art Business, The Artist as Pilgrim, Wordpress Photo Challenge

Two Worthy Causes: Helping Survivors of Torture or Typhoon.

Christmas.  You know it’s that time of year when the begging letters with pitiful photos of suffering donkeys/dogs/homeless people etc., flop through your letterbox designed to tear at your heart-strings, and dig a deep hole in your pocket.  They are difficult to ignore.  I’ve seen the graphic images on Facebook too.  Images of unbelievable cruelty metered out on these poor innocent creatures.  They stay with me for days and leave me weeping with anger and sadness.

Poniou by Veronica Vickery

Poniou by Veronica Vickery

But it’s the cruelty we inflict on our fellow humans that is the most shocking of all and shatter the lives of families around the world.  Not to mention the natural disasters like the recent Typhoon Hayain that shatter the lives of millions of people.  At the very least, witnessing the survivors of these natural or man-made catastrophes serve to put any adversities we may be experiencing into perspective.  Anything that we can do, however small, to try to heal those affected and suffering is surely worth pursuing.

installation of 'kisses', Drawing the Line exhibition.

detail of installation of ‘kisses’, Paul Carter and Alexandra Zierle, ‘Drawing the Line’ exhibition.

Two exhibitions opened this week in Cornwall with the aim of raising funds for charities that help others in desperate situations: Freedom From Torture and ShelterBox.  It was a coincidence that they happened to open on the same evening.  Both causes are close to my heart and I am proud to say I have had a small part to play in both events.

preparing to hang

Works by Faye Dobinson (left) and Samuel Bassett.

‘Drawing the Line’, kindly hosted by the Millennium Gallery, St. Ives, is a sealed bid charity exhibition in aid of Freedom From Torture, the medical branch of Amnesty.  The charity aims to help rehabilitate men and women from anywhere in the world who have survived torture.  The exhibition has been organised and curated by artist, Kate Walters, and as a member of the West Cornwall branch of the charity, I offered to help ‘hang’ the show.

lunch break for Janet, Kate (and me).

lunch break for Janet, Kate (and me).

Over 150 artists, not only from Cornwall but also from across the globe responded to the call-out and generously donated works with some well-known names amongst the line-up.   Kiki Smith, Tim Shaw RA, Sarah Gillespie, Lisa Wright and Pippa Young to name just a few.  With such a diverse range of work from different artists and over 200 works, putting this exhibition together has been a considerable task and not without its challenges.

untitled, by Richard Nott

untitled, by Richard Nott

However, there are some truly stunning pieces on show alongside contributions of work by a few of the people who have been helped by FFT.   The exhibition runs until 7th December so there is still time to make a bid and own a drawing by your favourite artist!  (I have donated 4 ‘drawings’).


A drawing by Hugh Mendes

Over £8,000 has been raised so far from successful bids.  Take a look at more drawings here.

‘The Christmas Postcard Show’ is a collaborative event this year between Badcocks Gallery and Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens.


The exhibition is taking place in the Lime Tree Café at Tremenheere, with part of the proceeds going to ShelterBox, a charity set up in Cornwall delivering emergency relief to people around the world.  (Typhoon Hayain in the Philippines is still so recent in our memories).  The show which this year has a ‘botanical’ theme, runs until Sunday, 15th December.  You can see the works here  (I have contributed 3 small drawings which I did from a recent visit to the Gardens in November, see one below).   The café is worth a visit in itself.  A slice of their home-made coffee and walnut cake is highly recommended!

Collecting Seeds, mixed media collage, 23cm x 18cm.  Inspired by the knowledge that the owner of the garden is a modern-day seed collector and visits foreign parts of the world to enhance his garden.

Collecting Seeds, 2013, mixed media collage, 23cm x 18cm, by Caro Woods.  Inspired by the knowledge that the owner of the garden is a modern-day plant collector who visits foreign parts of the world to bring back seeds to enhance the garden at Tremenheere.


Filed under Art Works, Exhibitions, my sketchbook pages, The Art Business

Deep Blue

From: Caro Woods []
Sent: 09 February 2013 10:37
To: Michael Richards
Subject: RE: Deep Blue again

Deep Blue

Deep Blue

Dear Michael,

I have attached a new (jpeg) image of Deep Blue.  As the original picture was a small file, I turned it into a vector image and enlarged the size to 25 square cm. (as requested).

Do let me know if this is going to work and how you are progressing with the book?  Perhaps I could mention it on my blog one day?

Yes thanks, good Christmas and hopeful new year…….very cosy in my tiny cottage as the wind whips up mayhem all around me.

Best wishes, Caro


From: Michael Richards

To: Caro Woods

Subject: Re Deep Blue again

Sent: wed 13/02/2013  10:04

Dear Caro

Thanks for this – I’ve sent it over to our Production Director in the US.

Hopefully we’ll have a mock-up of the jacket using your image by the end of this month (I need it for a catalogue we produce in time for the London Book Fair in April). I’ll send you a copy of it and then you could blog about it if you wish. Here is a short description of  the book:

In From Boulanger to Stockhausen: Interviews and a Memoir, the Hungarian-born musician Bálint András Varga presents interviews with noted international figures in twentieth-century music. Varga’s subjects include such luminaries as György Ligeti, Eugene Ormandy, Alfred Brendel, Isaac Stern, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, and Artur Rubinstein. The interviews are complemented by Varga’s memoir, a fascinating account of growing up in postwar socialist Hungary and of his career in radio and music publishing.

Just so I don’t forget, it would be useful to have a credit line for your image which will be printed on the book jacket. I would suggest something like (please complete the missing/incorrect bits):

Jacket image: Deep Blue by Caro Woods. Mixed media on [xxxxxxxx]/ [xx] cms x [xx] cms/ [date]. Website: Caro Woods is an artist who lives and works in Cornwall, UK.  She has exhibited widely throughout Europe and Africa.

Did you eventually move from the farmhouse where you used to rent out the small cottage? We still have fond memories of a wonderfully sunny week there with our greyhound!

Best wishes


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Filed under my sketchbook pages, The Art Business

What Price?

Below and Above, 28cm x 10cm, collagraph monoprint, £160

Below and Above, 28cm x 10cm, collagraph monoprint, £160

Money.  Sensitive subject.  It’s so important yet I was brought up believing it was vulgar to talk about it – in public!  How daft is that? Even now, I hesitate to publish the price of these works shown here as examples!  But we all have to make a living somehow, and I have chosen to make mine selling artwork.

Pricing work to sell is a moveable feast.  There are no rules.  It’s as random as pitching your house in the right price zone for selling in this current economic climate.  The more established and commercial you become the more money you can demand.

To lower your price in order to shift a piece of work is not always a good strategy.  It often has the reverse effect making your work seem less valuable than it may actually be (if you are judging it on the professional experience of the artist).  Location can often be a key indicator to what sort of price can be asked for a work of art and if you live in a more affluent area or you are selling to a known audience you can afford to demand higher prices.

Lode, 28cm x 10cm, collagraph monoprint, £160

Lode, 28cm x 10cm, collagraph monoprint, £160

I suppose the key is to be realistic.  Look around and compare artist’s work according to experience and track record and find a place where you fit in.  Alternatively, leave it up to the gallery owner or curator to work out a price based on what you would like to get out of the deal after his commission is paid.  The saying, it’s only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it is never truer and I have even sold work at picture auctions when I have needed to clear out old stock.

On-line Sales

Orange Pool, 28cm x 30cm, mixed media collage, £320

Orange Pool, 28cm x 30cm, mixed media collage, £320

However, selling on-line is a whole different platform.  There are so many on-line galleries where do you start and how can you be sure your buyer is getting what they see on the site? I once sold a painting, sight unseen, from the image on the Invitation card, and have had work reserved from the catalogue before a show.

I have a page for selling artworks on my website and have sold just one so far!  The cost of post and packaging has to be factored in or priced separately.  (Not a good idea to send framed work if you can help it).  If you are thinking of buying artwork on-line, take a look at Artolo, a brand new website for selling  artwork.   I have just become a founding artist member, and Tom Brereton Downs, (whom I met last year at the Art and Money event at Bridport), and the driving force behind this new website believes that it will revolutionise the way art is sold on-line.  Don’t know enough about the business to make a judgment and such early days yet.  Time will tell.

3.2.13 Post Script.  A dear follower friend sent me a text from holiday in Spain after reading this post telling me about an artist she had discovered on google who lives in France and produces one finished painting every day.   Postcard from Provence.  They are all SOLD.  It is worth having a look for the ‘amazement’ factor alone.  Thanks T. x

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Filed under my sketchbook pages, The Art Business

Google Plus or Minus?

google+ screen shot

Returned from the recent Art & Money (3/3) event in Bridport, Dorset, I was inspired by one of the key speakers, Paul Strickland to have a look at Google Plus, and started to map out a profile page, as illustrated here with a screen shot.

Not sure yet how I feel about this new social media platform.  From what I gather so far, its like a more interactive form of blogging.  It certainly seems more engaging than facebook.  But I ask myself, do I have room in my life for any more social networking?

Being a creative of any description is often a very isolating way of life, and successful collaborations take time to develop.   Google plus might just be a useful way of starting meaningful conversations and who knows what might come out of them?   The question is, are there enough hours in the day to spend on-line building up yet another type of supportive network?  What might the long-term benefits be, I wonder?  Would it actually provide work opportunities, as it did for Paul Strickland – an avid google-plus’er – who as an illustrator, received a commission from Denmark(?) as well as a book deal from his  Google+ contacts?

Post Script.  29/06/2012 I copied and pasted this post onto my google plus page and used it as my first ‘hi there’ post.  Today, I have three people who want to be friends.  I am beginning a new circle!

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Filed under my sketchbook pages, Personal Philosophy, The Art Business

What’s the Point?

When my son was small, if he was asked to do something he thought was irrelevant – such as: darling….would you like to make your bed today? – his answer would invariably be, what’s the point?  He was right of course.  If he wanted to leave his bed unmade, then that was his responsibility.  Since then, this question has become a family catchphrase.

(experimental poster no.2)

Now, at this very juncture in my life, I find myself asking the same question.  What is art for?  What’s the Point of it?  Why do I feel compelled to ‘make’ art?  Where exactly in the ‘bigger picture’ do I fit in?  What is the importance of art and artists in the cultural context of today and could we all live without it / them?

Firstly, as Paul Hobson ( Dir. Contemporary Art Society) said, there is no doubt that artists are the ‘oxygen’ of the art market.  Without them (us), there would be no art industry at all.  It helps pump life blood into the networks that support the galleries, public and private collectors, residencies, critics, writers, teachers, art schools, public art institutions, technicians, designers etc – not to mentions other branches of the creative professions, such as choreography, film making or acting etc. – and helps to turnover billions of dollars in the world economy.

However, like small UK dairy farmers today, most artists are at the bottom rung of the ladder in terms of earning potential.  Only a handful of artists are destined for stratospheric stardom with eye-popping incomes to match.  There is no doubt that the more successful artists do possess a high degree of self-belief.  The question is, why do so many of us take up such a precarious existence?  A conservative estimate by Arts Blueprint1 for workforce development drawn up by Creative and Cultural Skills (CCS) suggested there were 28,490 visual artists in 2009.   I shall be pondering this for my next post.  In the meantime, dear followers, please let me know if you have any ideas on the subject.

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Filed under Personal Philosophy, Posters, The Art Business

Music In Lamorna’s Valley

The sound of the stream gushing over tiny falls in its relentless rush down the valley to spew its contents into the sea, is the most arresting thing that hits your senses the moment you open the gate to the path that leads down to the small studio cottage, one of three that the artist, Lamorna Birch used when he lived in Lamorna.  Wrapped in the surround-sound of flowing water, this cottage is in the most romantic setting imaginable.

“It is the one constant!”  This is what my artist friend from Jersey days, David Henley who is renting the cottage for a few months, said when we arrived, referring to the constant background tone.  With the exception of an occasional fox or a heron on one of his many fishing raids, not much else has punctured that ‘note’ which has been David’s constant companion during his short stay here.

That is, until D and I invited ourselves over for a couple of hours of river bank action, arriving like gypsies equipped with waders, fishing rods and sketchbooks, respectively.  (These sketches show some of my results).   We were even rewarded for our efforts with a delicious lunch of pasta and rich vegetable ragout that David kindly made for us, minus the tiddly brown trouts that D thoughtfully put back into the river for the heron.

It transpires that David’s mission to Cornwall: to find a new gallery that will represent him in the UK, has been a bit of a wake-up call.  I explained that since leaving the relative security of Jersey, I have made major shifts of thinking not only about the ‘Art’ Business (with a capital ‘A’) in general but also how I go about my practice.

For instance, it is possible for an artist to survive in Jersey as a big fish in a little pond.   An artist living and working in Cornwall is a mere minnow in a very big pool indeed.  Cuts to arts funding has inevitable knock-on effects on the whole industry leaving galleries and artists alike across the country struggling to make ends meet.   Jersey, to be fair, has also experienced its share of tough times – relatively speaking.  Even previous sell-out exhibition artists are finding it harder to sell work these days.

Apart from pondering his good fortune about living in Jersey making ends meet by selling work and teaching, David’s time in the cottage has been spent playing music on his new Melodeon and developing a new set of paintings, first begun in Jersey and created in response to listening to folk music.   Our discussion over lunch inevitably turned to the rigours of trying to survive as an artist in these economic down times, with David admitting that he is increasingly turning to the luxury of painting what really inspires him now that he no longer has to provide payment for school fees.  For me, I have come to realise that I cannot pursue my creative endeavours unless I am in total isolation.   We both agreed that we can all achieve our aims just as long as we keep plugging away, no mater where we live.

Looking at David’s new body of work, I see the now familiar hum of the river has filtered into his subconscious as all the paintings display a similar tonal quality: the background pitch of running water to his folk-music-inspired paintings.  (If you want to see his latest paintings, visit his Facebook page).

It has been so nice to catch up with a familiar face from my Jersey days.  It has helped me put my current situation into a more relevant context.  Isn’t it curious how people turn up at such opportune moments in one’s life?  Yes, you are right David, my guides are indeed looking after me!


Filed under Art Works, Drawings, Personal Philosophy, The Art Business