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Studio Notes


This was a hot topic among artists and buyers who thronged last weekend at Bath Art Fair.

So I thought I'd delve a little deeper, having been both a seller and a buyer there it intrigued me, 'why buy art'?

pictured above - Chloe Elliott Schmid paintings and Dyffryn Glass at Bath Art Fair 2023

I mean it's 'just' a painting right? so why do I, and billions like me spend our hard earned cash on 'just' a painting?

#1 Emotional response

the main reason. From promoting a feeling of contentment and stillness, to evoking a memory. Connecting to a feeling seems to be the reason that most people buy art. Have you ever seen at a piece of art and thought: ‘I need that because it makes me feel xxx? It's an emotional reaction. When art makes you feel something or remember something, that's the best reason I think for buying art. For me it's an exciting when that happens, and I know I want more of that feeling in my living room and life.

#2 Investment

sometimes people will buy art because they have been told it will increase in monetary value, but in my opinion art is not real estate. It belongs on your wall in in your heart. Not in a vault. Also ... there's a herd mentality about buying 'the next big thing' that doesn't sit easily with me. Ask yourself, who is benefiting from this? see point 5 below.

A painting I bought because of an emotional response recently does have the added benefit of being an investment. I imagined my children and grandchildren growing up seeing this painting in our house and associating memories with it. One day it will hang in one of their homes - my kind of investment.

#3 Love of art

for some people purchasing art for the love of art is enough. They fill their homes with beautiful art and objects. It makes them feel how, and who, they want to be.

#4 For impact

Some people like to buy art because it makes a statement. They buy because the art is controversial, different and interesting. Sometimes people buy this type of art to start discussions or make a point.

#5 Supporting artists

I love visiting graduate shows and local art shows and buying a piece from artists who are in the early stages of their careers. Speaking as an artist, it's the most incredible life changing event, to sell your first painting. Buy buying from an 'emerging artists' you are funding their development and potentially their ability to affect thousands of peoples lives for the better. Prices at local art shows and graduation shows tend to be very reasonable too, so they are a great place to start or grow your collection.

"'[Art] has always been a stable nourishment. I use it.It can change the way I feel in the mornings.." – David Bowie

Art fairs are great places to buy art. You get to meet the artist, talk about their works, see many, many different pieces and hopefully find a favourite piece to take home

We bought two pieces of art at the weekend. One because we thought it was the best piece in the show, we both were drawn to it and we could see it in our home, that our family would like it, and that we could look at it and be entertained. Also it was piece painted by a former student of mine (@sarahheatherart) and had that history. The other painting, more my decision, I bought because it immediately reminded me of a trip my husband and I had taken several years ago.

Here's one I bought at Bath Art Fair from Paul Browne

Interested in starting your own original art collection?

You really don't need an analytical reason to buy art. It doesn't need to match the wall paper, it doesn't need to be a popular artist featured in magazines. All that matters at the end of the day is that you love it. And that's not something that can be categorised.

Here's a short video explaining what to think about when buying art, and my current available paintings can be viewed here .

I'd love to hear your thoughts about why you buy art, leave a comment and let me know.


One of the hardest colours to use in painting. It can seem overwhelming, gaudy, un natural. And yet for some of us it the colour we most live with and wish to use in our paintings. If you have issue with using greens, here's my tips.

Mix it, play with it, and most importantly ... always make a note of the yellow and blues you use in the mix. Finally - be aware that painting with green is more about the colour that is next to it - observe it next to pink - it's complimentary colour.

As part of my #JustPaintJanuary challenge I am sharing a series of small videos and live demos to help anyone interested in art to get more out of there painting. It's free to join, any time in January, by following this link

Top Five Principles for Painting Colour Fields

Gene Davis, Paul Feeley, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Alfred Jensen, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Raymond Parker, Larry Poons, Frank Stella, Larry Zox, and of course - my favorite, Mark Rothko.

All came out of the constraints of post-war 50's and 60's and followed on from Abstract Expressionism. Unlike their predecessors, colour field painters rejected any emphasis on gesture or emotive content.

It's all about the feeling that colour evokes with us. Rothko famously said he wanted viewers of his paintings to weep.

There's much more to the theory of Colour Field Painting that I'd love to discuss - but first - on with the painting!

Colour field paintings look simple, and yes in some ways that is so. They are a great way to play with paint, loosen up and just enjoy colour.

However, a whole world will blossom forth if we apply a few essential skills to our colour field paintings. In fact - for me - they continue to provide an endless line of fascination and discovery.

Based on my experience and observation here are 5 key principles an understanding of which will deepen appreciation and pleasure of colour field painting. By subtly shifting any one of these key principles the whole painting will be changed and with it the emotional impact of the piece.


Five Key Principles for Colour Field Painting

1. Size does matter

2. Edges are important

3. Colour theory is the key

4. Paint application and transitions

5. Opacity and transparency bedrocks

Meeting a Mark Rothko (Met. NewYork)

1. Size does matter.

The impact of colour field paintings increases proportionately by the size that you experience them. Nothing beats a colour field in the flesh. Seeing one on a computer screen is absolutely better than nothing, but it’s the equivalent of looking at a flower on the computer screen. You see something of the flower, but you don’t see it moving in the breeze, you don’t see the insects buzzing around it, don’t see the light bouncing off the petals, don't breathe in the scent - essentially you don’t experience it, as on the screen it is only visual.

Well surely that's OK as paintings are only visual right?

Wrong! with colour field paintings when you experience them face-to-face in their larger-than-life loveliness, it’s hard not to be immediately and viscerally affected. Added to that is the physiological effect caused by wavelengths of light and colour manipulating the back of your retina and vibrating at a frequency that affects emotion. These together have real physical impact. So size is important! Work as big as you possibly can when working on colour field paintings - therein lies their impact.

2. Edges are Important.

Careful manipulation of the paint around the edges of the blocks of colour that are often seen in colour field paintings can allow those blocks of colour seemingly float on the surface of the colour underneath. Careful observation will show that the edges can be smooth, can be round, could be jagged or frayed out. Rothko in particular was fond of leaving his edges frayed; deliberately so that you could see the painted layers underneath.

3. Colour theory is key.

One could spend a lifetime exploring colour theory and several wonderful scholars have. I’d recommend books by Joseph Albers The Interaction of colour as a good starting point for any student of colour theory.

In a nutshell, Albers concludes that "In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is—as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art. In order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually."

Carefully chosen colours, placed next to or on top of each other have a visible impact and a visceral affect on the viewer.

Even a basic knowledge of colour theory will help transform any colour field painting from a seemingly random collection of colours into something really very special.

4. Paint Applications and Transitions.

As important as the choice of colours when creating a colour field painting is the application of paint. The choice of whether to put the paint on the canvas with a cloth, a pour, a wide brush or with the fingers all impact upon the important visceral feeling that comes across from the painting.

Once again, using Rothko as an example -he applied paint in very diluted thin veils - very, very fine layers, smoothly and roughly, with drips and dribbles that connect the viewer to the artist's hand.

Transitions are another important aspect of colour field painting - the transition between one colour and another - is it soft, is it hard, is it smooth? and the transition between a transparent paint passage and an opaque passage - again, soft, hard, jagged, blended? these make for endlessly fascinating nuances.

5. Opacity and Transparency.

The bedrocks of colour field painting because without transparent paint applied in very thin layers the subtleties and the vibrations of the underlying colours would not occur.

Pigments are chosen for their transparency or opacity, as well as to complement, enhance or even jar against underneath layers. The paint is applied very thinly so that it is possible to see the layers of paint on the colour underneath. Colour theory again comes into play here, because you get visual colour mixing occurring through the thin layers, dependant on the choice of colours.

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