What happens when a piece of work is finished?

Sometimes, if I’m not ready to let it go, it stays a while. But the ultimate joy of making artwork is to see someone else fall in love with it, so much that they want to keep it and enjoy it forever.

So there is a whole other challenge that comes after making the work of how to connect with buyers who are looking for something unique and original.

There are so many options out ‘there’ now for artists as alternatives to galleries but it can be a crowded market place and hard for buyers to find what you like. Within an artist group we were discussing alternative places to show our work and someone suggested coffee shops.

abstract landscape painting by Alice Sheridan display at LaveliBut that’s not going to work… if I’m going in to buy a coffee, I’m not about to spend £xx on a painting! I don’t believe it happens. However I like experimenting and taking first steps, so I agreed to hang work at my local coffee shop and see what happened. This costs me. Not a fortune, but it’s a consideration. So I was thrilled when JUST ONE DAY after putting up the labels I had a call from someone wanting to buy a painting.

We agreed to meet, at my house, so she could see what other pieces I had, and she chose one of those. A soft misty landscape that was very peaceful… she followed a breadcrumb trail that led her to me; one step led to another.

The following week, someone got in touch to choose a painting for her husband who had arrived home, bringing one of my postcards and saying THIS is what he would like for his birthday. Happy to oblige!

And this week I took a large painting to someone’s home so that she could see it in situ. As soon as I saw the room I could see why she had picked it, and she had no doubt over her choice. What was interesting was that she mentioned she had been ‘visiting it’ in the coffee shop regularly to see if she had the same reaction. Did the feeling wear off? No, it felt right.

Although she has lived in the area for 10 years she has never visited the annual art trail I take part in each year. She wasn’t sure about the idea of going in to artists’ homes. It showed me that there are many people who prefer different ways of buying. She was more comfortable making her decision slowly, and then picking up the phone, whereas some people would prefer to browse as part of a crowd.

abstract collage seascape framed original artwork by Alice Sheridan

It’s great to see where my work ends up. This morning I was with a friend having coffee, who bought a small abstract collage from one of my first shows. It’s always good to see it at her home. At first I thought she hadn’t hung it because she wasn’t really sure or had bought it out of a sense of duty (artist fragile ego!), but one day she mentioned that she loved having it propped up because it meant she could pick it up and look closely at it whenever she liked.

Like having a cuddle! Which brings us back to the love thing:

I saw an article recently about how love sparks off chemicals in your brain and I wondered “Is this really why we buy art?”

You have an immediate emotional reaction, it’s like falling in love and if you buy the work you can get to keep it! That’s pretty powerful. If you follow this idea through you know that love also requires letting go.

Hanging work in a new space is like sending children off to university. New surroundings, you have to hope they can stand on their own two feet. By that stage you’ve done all you can. Put it out in the world and the other side of the deal is up to someone else.

Blue Horizon etching print by Alice Sheridan on display at Laveli

This week I have hung new pieces in the coffee shop; a pair of etchings and some other work on paper. I’m delighted with the four sales that have happened so far… and from a place where people only go to buy coffee. Well, that shows how much I know!

So my point is, don’t hesitate… art has the advantage of being original. Only one exists. One. In the world. If you fall in love, you don’t want it marrying someone else! Ok, that may be a little strong 🙂 but the internet is making it easier for all of us to make connections. You can contact me anytime about work you see here using the contact form.

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What are your favourite ways to find new artists and to buy art for your collection? Add your thoughts at the bottom of the page, it would be great to know.


The end of a drizzly half term day. The children have been squabbling and I have been quietly getting on with a job that has been waiting two years; making blinds for the bathroom.

Suddenly I was thinking of my grandmother. Often as young children my brother and I would go and stay for the weekend with her. The sewing machine would come out and at the end of a day with fabric trimmings, threads across the carpet and not-so-carefully-placed-pins we would have a new dressing gown, a summer dress or teddy bear. She continued to make her own clothes into her eighties, often working without a pattern to guide her, or modifying her own designs.

She was also a creative cook – bringing a taste of olive oil back from her war days in Italy to an England where you could only buy olive oil from the chemist. She wrote plays, she acted, she painted. There was always something going on. I will have a rummage and add a photograph later…

I wonder how much of this creative stuff is inherited?

Did I inherit a creative gene, or was it just nurtured by seeing that it was possible?

I’m tempted to think that it’s my daughter who has inherited it from me – she’s the one with the sketchbooks, glue sticks, endless art supplies and air drying clay rather too close to my clean sewing…. But today, once I forced them to turn off the screens, it was my son who invented the T-shirt folding machine (or possibly stole it from YouTube – no matter – he made it – and used it!) We were talking at dinner about how, when he was younger, he would take things apart to figure out how they worked.

There is a moment when you make something when it suddenly takes shape. With clothes it’s often turning out the first seam and you see the strange flat shapes of fabric transformed into three dimensions. Today it was sliding the base rails into the bottom pocket and suddenly there was weight and a finished edge. An addictive satisfaction from making things.

You don’t get either of those things with children – you can’t take them apart to figure out how they work, and I’m not sure there is a moment when suddenly you can see it all take shape. When they squabble I’m not very good at visualising the end result! Thankfully my non-creative husband has more faith that there are some good bits that will stick…

Today’s diversions have also included realizing the new card version of Monopoly is much more entertaining, and quicker, than the traditional board game and a few rounds of lying down balloon volleyball. A fairly regular fill-the-time wet holiday day but I wonder what they will remember in years to come, and what things they will pass on.


I wonder if any artists know in advance how their painting will look at the final outcome? I certainly don’t and as I start this new year I’m even more unsure of the direction my work is going… but perhaps with a stronger vision of what I’d like to achieve. Does that even make sense?

There is an elusive idea of a constructed landscape: something that feels wild, that has a sense of place, of open-ness and freedom. But that is also constrained and within boundaries.

So as I settled in the studio for the first time in a while it was hard to get going. It can be tricky, almost impossible, to just pick up a brush and paint, unless you are painting a specific scene or still life. For me there is a longer processing journey – down through the layers away from original drawings.

blue collage book Alice Sheridan

If it is brave to lay your finished artwork open for criticism and judgement, it feels even braver to share when even you yourself cannot yet determine the direction. Imagine publishing an unedited book, or a play without rehearsal. And yet to follow ideas as they come into fruition is a fascinating glimpse into the process.

I’ve discovered that allowing myself to be one step removed can be a gentle way in, so I was using torn sections from old drawings, enlarged photocopies of drypoint prints and newspaper to create some strcutures in my collage sketchbook.

blue horizon collage sketchbook Alice Sheridan

blue collage landscape Alice Sheridan

Collage feels comfortable – maybe because you can play with the options before you make the final decision where to place your elements. Possibly my background as a graphic designer means that this method of layout feels more natural to me than building up a painting does. As I was adding and removing I was conscious not to overload, to keep the arrangement simple.

As I posted on Instagram I made a comment about the distinction between creating and curating. For me they are two very different parts of the process; one is semi-automatic; your training takes over, you draw through instinct. What emerges can be surprising and exciting.  And yet constantly you are also analysing, making decisions and editing. Any piece of artwork is as much about what you choose to leave out as much as what you decide to include – being selective. It’s the combination of creating and curating that takes us somewhere new.

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