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Art Collecting Tips
Eleven things to remember when starting to collect art
or starting an art collection. These tips are for beginning
as well as experienced art collectors.
  • Buy art because you like it and because it moves you, and because it will enhances your life.
  • Visit as many art galleries as you can, gallery staff can be helpful guides in your art education.
  • Get on gallery mailing lists so you'll be invited to openings and special events.
  • Visit and join your local Art Museums and Non Profit Art centers. Curators sometimes give lectures on collecting art.
  • Attend National Art Expos and Art Fairs whenever possible.
  • If you know art collectors talk to them and find out what they know and what they've learned about collecting.
  • Read art and art history books or books on collecting art.
  • Subscribe to a few art magazines.
  • Read reviews by local and national art critics, but keep in mind that reviews usually just reflect one person's opinion.
  • Prints are a great way to start collecting art. Limited edition prints of high quality will escalate in value and become collector’s items to be treasured for generations.
  • Once you've educated yourself and have fallen in love with a work of art.... buy it, take it home and enjoy it.

Art Collecting Secrets
Collecting art has rules just like any other game. If you follow these you win and make a lot of money. An art appraiser is really just a game judge that tallies up the points your art scored. He tells you if you won or lost compared to what you paid. Unfortunately the rules are not published and have to be learned from experience. The most experienced appraiser is the better the judge of your art work. Here are a few of these "secret" art rules:
  • Horizontal landscapes are more valuable than vertical ones.
  • Paintings of cows, sheep and pigs are difficult to sell. Roosters are better than chickens.
  • Paintings showing youth are better than ones portraying old age. Young women and children are better than men.
  • Anything about death including paintings of church cemeteries are nearly impossible to sell.
  • Bright colored paintings are better than dark ones.
  • Unsigned art is definitely a negative.
  • A painting in the artist's typical style and subject is better than a one of their rare experimental pieces.
  • Posthumous cast sculpture and re-strikes prints never bring the same price as ones done in the artist's lifetime.
  • The most expensive landscapes usually have calm water in them.
  • Certain game birds are more desirable than others. Grouse, pheasants and woodcock are better than mallards and crows.
  • Certain game animals are better than others. Elephants, lions, leopards are better than antelopes, wild boar and wolves.
  • Landscapes with horses and figures are better than just a sunny meadow. Mountains are better than a factory or shipyard scene.
  • Floral still lifes bring more money than fruit ones. Some flowers are more desirable. Roses are best, chrysanthemum the least.
  • Some breeds of dogs are more desirable. Spaniels, terriers and setters are best. Dachshunds and collies the least. A painting of a mongrel dog is near impossible to sell.

Selected Articles from the Art Network:

Collecting Art - Learn how to build a collection.
So, you want to be an art collector? For a beginner, it can be an intimidating concept. Do you need to be a millionaire? Have a degree in art history? Possess impeccable taste?
None of the above. Art collectors come from all economic classes. Some are trained art scholars, while others teach themselves by reading and visiting galleries or museums. What they share is the desire to make an investment in something that will give them joy and aesthetic pleasure.
Marcia Weber is the owner of Marcia Weber Art Objects, Inc., a gallery that collects and sells works created by self-taught artists. She suggests that beginning collectors see as many works of art as possible.
"Using the Internet to research where to go physically to see intriguing art is an efficient way to collect," Weber said. "But it should not be a substitute for also seeing actual examples of works of art in order to develop an informed opinion. No visual image will ever be as wonderful as the actual work of art."
Educating Yourself
Begin with the down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice given by The Art Lady. She demystifies the world of contemporary art collecting in a series of informative articles and suggests great places to view art on the Web.
To find out what differentiates a collector from an art lover, check out What Makes an Art Collection? A Collector?. "The Responsible Collector" at ArtAdvice.com outlines the three basic areas important to collectors: documentation, biographical information and provenance... full article here

Fine Art Auction House Advice
Which type of auction house is always a difficult decision. There are local, national, mail order, foreign and Internet. Some charge as little as 3%; others up to 50% of the sale price. Some houses appear to charge reasonable rates but have outrageous hidden charges for catalog illustrations, delivery charges, insurance and buy-back commissions. One Chicago auction house, that conveniently goes in and out of business, has their fees so set if minor items don't bring a certain price, you end up owning them money and receive nothing.
Many items sell better overseas (Old Master paintings) while others sell better on the West Coast (Chinese artifacts) and some out East (Currier and Ives prints). Some don't do well at auction (Erte prints). A few items sell only through one firm (books). One category (antiquities) now requires extensive documents that it was acquired and exported legally. Some collections contain items that should be divided and sent to several different specialist auction houses. An estate executor who just dumps everything into one house is irresponsible.
Many items are seasonal. Some sell better in summer (ship paintings) while other in winter (snow landscapes). Most auction houses will not tell you about any of this. They want your items now and will tell you anything to get you to consign to them.
Will the fine art auction house even catalog your items properly? The big auction firms have experts on staff but small Chicago and regional firms have only a couple of people who pretend to be "Jacks of all trades." This is why, in the front of their catalogs, they say "are statements of opinion and not to be relied upon as statements of fact." This is so you can't sue them for their mistakes.
The art/antique world is filled with stories about auction houses that performed shoddy research and sharp specialized dealers that purchased an item from them, and then re-consigned it, properly cataloged, to the correct auction where it would do best.
Learn how to avoid the famous auction house "bait and switch." They tell you your item will fetch a high value to get you to ship it to them and sign the contract. Then afterwards, when they think you won't want to be inconvenienced by having it sent back, they tell you they've reconsidered and now believe it should have a dramatically lower value. We've helped many collectors, like you, re-ship the item to a more reputable venue. The auction world is filled with firms that have recently been fined and/or have had their executives serve prison terms. (One of their understudies just opened an auction house in Chicago). Just read the fine print in an auction contract. If they say one of your items is authentic and after it is sold, it turns out to be a fake, you have to refund the money for their mistake. (A Wisconsin family had to do this on a blatantly miscataloged Van Gogh sold by a Chicago auction house to get publicity). Don't be another Chicago auction house victim!
Before sending anything to auction, get an independent appraisal that contains thorough research. Get an auction market evaluation of where and when your art/antiques will do best. Get an idea of your tax liabilities and how to legally reduce them. Upon receipt of your auction proceeds, they send you a W2 IRS form. You must then pay tax on this income... full article here

Frequently Asked Questions by Novice Collectors
HOW DO I START AN ART COLLECTION?
There are only two rules to start an art collection: (a) Collect what you like (b) Whenever possible, buy the original. Buy and collect only what you like and what interests you and is within your economic means. Although only you know what you really like, a reputable art dealer can advise you as to where, how and how much. If you like the work of a particular artist or a specific kind of prints (like Japanese woodcuts) or drawings (such as figurative drawings), then focus your collection in those areas. However, a lot of excessive attention is often placed on a "focused" collection. A diverse collection may make less sense to some than a focused one, but it only has to make sense to you!.
WHY NOT BUY ONLY FAMOUS ARTISTS?
Once again, you should buy what you like. If you like Picasso's "Blue Period" paintings, and have the money to afford them when they come on the market, then by all means go for it! And (at least in theory) you'll have a better overall investment potential if you do). But it's not very rewarding buying art by famous artist at the expense of giving up the fun of "discovering" a new artist. Also, history consistently proves that "fame" often wanes and causes prices to come crashing down or soar up. One generation's "in" artist is usually not the next generation's idea of what's hot. Critics and museums often have an agenda that they wish to push, and sometimes inflate an artist beyond that artist's ability to survive the true test of time. Some power-house artists, like Picasso, Rembrandt, Goya and others just go on and on, but others who once were very hot (like many of the 60's and 70's artists) implode and are ignored a handful of years later. Who could have predicted just five years ago that Norman Rockwell would be having a retrospective at the Guggenheim? In 1989 an original oil by Scottish painter Jack Vetriano sold for about 300 British pounds. Today, although he is despised by the art critics and the British arts establishment, he is adored by the public and by some very important collectors, and his works, if you are lucky enough to get on the waiting list for one, ranged in the tens of thousands of pounds. Where will he be in 20 years? No one knows. Finally, beware of the word "famous" which in some cases means "good advertising budget." There are quite a few artists (usually sold through fancy chain gallaries) that have the financial backing to take full page ads in many impressive places. A lot of this art is usually of very little value, and most of the time you usually end up with a very expensive, signed reproduction in an even more expensive frame.
HOW DO I KNOW IT'S AUTHENTIC?
The easiest way is to become an expert in whatever you collect (art, first editions, Pokemon cards), but in fine arts, generally it is best (and easier) to buy artwork from accredited, reputable dealers. The Fraser Gallery guarantees the authenticity of all the art that we sell. We also issue a written Certificate of Authenticity so that you have written evidence of our guarantee. In the unlikely event that a mistake is ever made, we will refund your money and apologize if it can be proven that the art is not what we claimed it was. All guarantees are based on our present knowledge and scholarly opinion. Because we generally deal with living artists only, we can usually guarantee the Provenances directly from the artist to the gallery. Bottom line: If you buy art, you should get its authenticity guaranteed in writing.
WHAT IS A PROVENANCE?
A provenance is the life history of the piece of artwork, and normally starts with the artist selling it, or giving it as a gift, or passing through a dealer, etc. Most of our pieces have a Provenance that comes directly from the artist to the gallery, since we are often their first entry point. When we re-sell a piece of artwork, the provenance often includes the record of that piece, exhibitions, reviews it has had, etc.
HOW ARE PRICES DECIDED?
Pricing artwork is a difficult science at best. Many factors influence the price of a piece of art, but the key factor is of course demand. The more collectors want work by an artist, the more they are willing to pay. Supply is also a strong factor. Usually emerging artists' prices are a fraction of what established well-known artists can obtain. Auction prices can vary wildly from gallery prices, depending on the bidding. Historically, oils have been more expensive than watercolors and watercolors more than drawings, and so on. However, a Picasso drawing will still beat a major work by an emerging or even an established run-of-the-mill artist anytime. However, other than contemporary published editions of reproductions (usually called "prints" unfortunately) and limited edition photography, there is no "list price" for true prints and certainly none for paintings, drawings, and sculpture. We usually set a price on the basis of what think is fair market value, plus a selling record, accounting for size and me dia, and then discuss it with the artist.
CAN PRICES BE NEGOTIATED?
Beware of "art galleries" that have sales. You can try to negotiate prices, as some dealers are open to it and some aren't. The Fraser Gallery will try to accommodate your requests and we will always leave the final decision to the artist or the collector selling his work. We will also advice them on what decision to make. If you really want the item in question, but not at the offered price, be honest and say so. Be weary of price reductions of more than 10% as huge discounts hurt the artist's sales record and most reputable dealers will not do them. It is also perfectly reasonable to ask for a small discount if you are buying several pieces of art at once. Bottom line: We will accommodate any reasonable offer, but it will always be up to the artist.
IS ART A GOOD FINANCIAL INVESTMENT?
If you are looking to buy art as a financial investment, then you should try buying stocks instead. Most reputable dealers in fine art are at least aware of the "potential" investment factor of a work of art, but there's no secret formula or "insider knowledge" as to what future prices for a piece of art will be. It all depends on many factors, most of which are quite unpredictable as artists' popularity and demand rise and fall and sometimes rise again. Reputable dealers can and will often give you their informed opinion, but that is all it is: an opinion! There are of course, works of art that are always "on the rise," such as works by the masters or very well-established (often dead) artists, but when buying work by contemporary, living artists, the key rule should still be to buy what you like, and avoid anyone that suggests that you should buy it as an "investment." We do represent artists whose work we think will rise substantially in price in the future, and have a certain "track" record to suggest that. Nonetheless, it is an opinion and an educated guess at best.
ARE THERE ANY ART BARGAINS?
An art bargain happens in one of two ways: (a) The seller and the buyer have widely diverging ideas on the price of the art or (b) You buy a decent, original piece of art from an emerging artist at a substantially lower price that the art could "command" in a better sellers' market. The true bargains are also when an art connoisseurs, who knows his art well (and prices) and who can recognize originals from fakes, etc. "runs" into a work of art being offered by someone less knowleable than him/her, on that particular piece. This would usually happen at auctions, or in galleries where art is re-sold, rather than in galleries where the work of living artists is sold. For example, some English prints sell for lower prices in the US than they do for in Britain.
WHAT IS A PRINT?
Print is the most abused term used in the world of art. A true print is something that the artist has created by hand, such as an etching, or a woodcut or a linicut. The point is that the creation process involves the artist in control of what gets created. Everything else is a reproduction. An Iris print, gyclee print, etc. are just digital reproductions of an artist's original work. There's nothing wrong with reproductions, if that is what you want to buy, as long as you know the true difference between reproductions and prints. If you don't know, then ask! This is a vital question to ask about modern, twentieth-century prints, especially since the introduction of digital technology into the game. Generally speaking, it is better if a print is signed and numbered; although some artists go "beyond" the numbers by having artist proofs, special lettered editions, etc. With rare exceptions, artists only began to keep track of the number of impressions printed from their original plates in the 19th century. Before that, the edition was limited by its popularity and how many could be hammered out of the plate! Goya's plates were still being used in the 20th century to print and to sell his "Caprichos" etchings. Because the plate deteriorates the more it is used. there are usually noticeable differences between the first and last impressions. A smart buyer should always ask: "How many did the artist print?" and "How many of them are still available?", as usually prints that are all sold (called "out of print") tend to go up in price if the demand for them rises.
HOW ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY?
Collecting photographs as a fine art genre is a 20th century phenomenom. Photography is perhaps one of the most affordable and rewarding paths for beginner collectors. At the Fraser Gallery, we only sell the work of photographers who take, develop and print their own work. We also require them to use archival methods for processing, washing and presenting the work (via pH-balanced, acid free, conservation archival materials). All of the photographs that we sell are signed by the photographers, and we generally also require that they be from a unique, numbered, limited edition. full article here

Demystifying How Artists Work by Pastel Society of America
What is a pastel painting?
Pastel is pure pigment, the same pigment used in making all fine art paints. It is the most permanent of all media when applied to conservation ground (such as acid-free paper) and properly framed. Pastel has no liquid binder that may cause other media to darken, fade, yellow, crack or blister with time. Pastels from the 16th century exist today, as fresh as the day they were painted, no restoration needed.
Pastel does not refer to pale colors, as the word is commonly used in cosmetic and fashion terminology. The name pastel comes from the French word "pastische" because the pure, powdered pigment is ground into a paste, with a small amount of gum binder, and then rolled into sticks. The infinite variety of colors in the pastel palette range from soft and subtle to bold and brilliant. Note: Pastel must never be confused with colored chalk. Chalk is a mineral substance impregnated with dyes.
An artwork is created by stroking the sticks of dry pigment across an abrasive ground, embedding the color in the "tooth" of the paper, sandboard or canvas. If the ground is completely covered with pastel, the work is sometimes called a pastel "painting". Leaving much of the ground exposed produces a pastel sketch or drawing. Techniques vary with the individual artists. Pastel can be blended or used with visible strokes. Many artists favor the medium because it allows a spontaneous approach. There is no drying time, little clean-up, and no allowances to be made for a change in color due to drying.
Historically, pastel can be traced back to the 16th century. Its invention is attributed to the German painter Johann Thiele. A Venetian woman artist, Rosalba Carriera was the first to make consistent use of pastel. Chardin did portraits with an open stroke, while LaTour preferred the blended finish. Thereafter a galaxy of famous artists... Watteau, Copley, Delacroix, Millet, Manet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vuillard, Bonnard, Glackens, Whistler, Hassam, William Merritt Chase... just to list the more familiar names, used pastel as finished work rather than preliminary sketches.
Edgar Degas was a prolific user of pastel, and its champion. His protégé, Mary Cassatt introduced the Impressionists and pastel to her friends in Philadelphia and Washington, and thus to the United States. In the Spring of 1983, Sotheby Parke Bernet sold at auction two Degas pastels for more than $3,000,000 each. Both pastels were painted about 1880.
Pastel is sometimes combined with watercolor, gouache, acrylic, charcoal or pencil in a mixed-media painting, but it is incompatible with oil paint. Today, pastel paintings have the stature of oil and watercolor as a major fine art medium. Many of our most renowned living artists have distinguished themselves in pastel, and enriched the art world with this beautiful medium... full article here

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