Why you should support independent visual artists this Christmas

Why you should support Independent Visual Artists this Christmas


why you should support independent visual artists this Christmas

And who you really should be taking notice of in today’s art world...

Well it’s nearly that time of year again where we have to brave the cold weather and go outside and wrangle with the queues of people all intent on bagging a pre-Christmas bargain. Then we have to return home, warm up a little and go outside again to put up the outside Christmas decorations. That’s what I did last weekend and I’m still thawing out. 

A lucky few of you will have already made a start on Christmas shopping, some have even bought and wrapped all of their gifts. Me, well I like to leave everything to the last minute because I clearly love the sport of extreme shopping. 

Giving the gift of art…

You have looked online, pondered, and visited multiple stores yet you are still stuck for ideas. You are looking for something truly unique but nowhere seems to have in stock what you really don’t even have in mind. You will know it is the right gift when you see it is my strategy too, the problem is that when you see anything it is definitely not what was in your mind. Gift buying gets more and more difficult every year.

This is where art can save the day. It doesn’t have to be an original Matisse or Van Gogh, and if you are thinking that those would make great gifts, I would love to be your friend. On the other end of the spectrum you are not limited to the generic prints available in the large discount chains and home décor stores if you can’t afford an original from one of the great masters!

Everyone has those generic stock prints already. The discount chains sell hundreds of prints each day so chances are that what you’re buying will also be hung on a neighbour’s wall. They’re not unique at this point and the quality isn’t always there. What you need is something both affordable and unique, but you don’t necessarily want to give a piece of art that will fade in a few years or in some cases a few months. 

But, and this is perhaps the art world’s biggest secret, what if I told you that you could own truly unique art that isn’t massed produced or generic, and I told you that it was affordable?

Well that’s exactly what I will be telling you this week and not only will I be pointing you in the right direction to buy unique art at affordable prices, I will be pointing you towards art that is often not available anywhere other than through independent artists. I will be giving you the lowdown on what to consider when making a purchase and just which artists you should be looking out for. 

I have collected the works of big names in the past but more and more I have become infatuated and amazed by the works of independent artists. If you are only looking for the most well-known artist names then you really have been missing out on a whole new world of art.

Independent artists who sell through print on demand produce some of the best artwork that you will never have known about before taking a look through the Print on Demand (POD) sites. Much of it wouldn’t look out of place in high-end galleries and if you want the artwork to be printed on quality materials then a few of the POD sites such as Fine Art America and Pixels really are the best places to go. 

Know what you want…

Buying art whether it is original or as prints is a minefield at times. Buying from discount stores often means that you will be compromising on the quality, you won’t get the range of choice available through the POD sites and depending on both the material the art is printed on and the types of inks or pigment in the paint used on the works surface, it will determine how long the print will stay vibrant. 

Many of the cheapest prints available on the high street and in those large stores situated on retail parks are printed to meet a set retail price. Often that price is lower than any artist could buy a canvas and the paints or ink used in production of the prints because each of those prints will be produced thousands and thousands of times. The artist also doesn’t always benefit from such huge quantities, often receiving very little in commission. Most of the time the prints are from stock image sites, in short everybody can own them and a lot of people do. 

Not only does this mean that you will be buying generic prints that many people already own, you are buying art that isn’t always printed at anywhere near optimum quality. 

A $15 print might look great in the store with all of the stores lights shining down, but very often when you hang these types of prints in a home they can look very different. Often the colours will be subdued and if they are exposed to certain conditions the colours can fade even quicker and they are more susceptible to being damaged by the atmospheric conditions once the cellophane wrapper is taken off.

Whilst environmental factors can affect any artwork, making sure you know what to look out for and importantly how to display your art will minimise the risk. You can read my article on displaying art here


osprey art by Mark Taylor

What you need to know…

All of the artists featured this week will be using print on demand sites such as Fine Art America and Pixels, some will be using Society 6, but all of the artists will have one major thing in common with other, they all know that the materials used in the production of prints are critical to how long the work lasts, and they will know that the print on demand services they use will be only offering the very best quality, so here’s what you need to know when selecting your new print. 

All of the papers and canvases used by Fine Art America and Pixels are acid-free. This makes a huge difference to the longevity of the prints, and with appropriate care the prints will last for generations. 

Fine Art America and Pixels are both operated by Fine Art America and everything comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. You can also see how the artwork will look on your wall before you make a purchase by downloading the Pixels app on the Apple App Store or on Android through Google Play. 

Wherever you purchase prints from you will want to know about the various mediums that are available. Often the large retailers will offer only one or two options, usually along the lines of unframed prints, or stretched canvas prints and you will have little choice over the finish or rather the quality of the finish. 

Buying through FAA or Pixels will give you a much wider range of options, and because the prints are printed using state of the art giclee printers and by an expert staff of print masters who have more than 40-years of giclee printing experience, the results are guaranteed to be exceptional.

Once you have selected your artwork there are a few other things that you will need to consider, and the most important is choosing the paper or canvas or other material that you want. If you are buying from FAA or Pixels then all of the below options are available, if you are buying from elsewhere, then these are the mediums and finishes that you will need to look out for. Some will work better with some art than for others, but all of these when supplied through FAA will come with that all important 30-day money back guarantee.

Premium Archival Matte Paper

Archival matte papers are not always equal. The important question to ask is whether or not the paper used is acid-free as acids will destroy anything printed on the paper over time. The benefit of using a premium archival acid-free paper is that they are long-lasting and versatile.

If you buy through FAA then the heavyweight matte finish paper is engineered for high contrast and crisp reproduction of high resolution images.   Premium Archival Matte is a neutral white paper ideal for black-and-white photography and a variety of fine art applications. It is acid-free for archival longevity. (230 gsm / 9.5 mil)

So if you are buying from anywhere else, this is the standard you need for this finish and longevity.

Does your supplier offer truly premium glossy photo paper?

Many suppliers of prints will offer glossy photo papers but they often use lower quality papers. Again there is a big difference between photo papers and in the weight of the papers used too. 

When ordering through FAA you can choose their premium papers which offer a much more luxuriant depth and more vivid colour than many of the alternatives. This is an ultra-gloss finish rather than a more simple gloss finish so this works especially well with B/W photography. The neutral tone, high D-Max, and ink saturation make these photo papers an outstanding choice for giclee reproductions of any art where a glossy finish is required. The papers used by FAA are 250 gsm / 10 mil, so if you are going elsewhere, this should be your aspiration. 

Premium Luster Photo Paper

Again this is a paper type that is not consistent across all suppliers. This happy medium is preferred by portrait photographers for its cheerful sheen. The luster finish also has a delicate sparkle that makes images of water scintillate. The neutral tone, high D-Max, and high ink saturation make these photo papers an outstanding choice for giclee reproductions.  They are a hefty 250 gsm / 10 mil, so if you want to add a shimmer to landscape paintings and especially if they include water, this is one of the best of the paper mediums to use.

Premium Semi-Matte Photo Paper

I love semi-matte photo papers and they work particularly well with photographic prints, but artwork too looks elegant with the papers understated semi-matte finish. The best papers of this type and the ones offered through both FAA and Pixels are optimised for maximum presentation quality with minimum glare which is important when you also take into account how you will light the artwork. 

The neutral tone, high D-Max, and high ink saturation make these photo papers an outstanding choice for giclee reproductions. FAA offer 260 gsm / 10 mil so again when buying from elsewhere, these are the numbers you need to look for.

Cool Tone Picture Rag 

Whenever I create black and white photography or monotone artwork I tend to recommend cool tone picture rag paper. It has a modern feel and it can be used to provide exceptional vivid and true colours on all artwork. The beauty of this paper type is that it is seen as a premium choice for many artistic printing applications. 

Again this is an acid-free paper which is made from 100% cotton rag. Some outlets will offer an inferior rag paper which is often much thinner too. FAA provide a 300 gsm / 24 mil paper which is the ideal.

Somerset Velvet

This is a bright and radiant white paper which offers some of the best vivid colour reproduction you will find. At 255 gsm / 19 mil, this is exceptional paper for conservation quality prints. 

When it is used for prints of oil painted and pastel created images its texture provides an extra hint of warmth to those images and softens the overall effect of photographic images. When purchased from FAA the paper is 100% cotton rag which really helps with preserving the artwork. 

Watercolour Papers

Watercolour papers should have a textured finish and should have a satisfying weight. It is another paper that is often substituted for lower cost options but the quality of FAA watercolour papers is exceptional. 

This type of paper is ideal for those who wish to handle the print out of its frame as it is rigid and has a texture only found in the best quality papers. It has a neutral tone so is ideal for prints of watercolour paintings but it can also work well with photographic prints as it adds some additional interest and can really be transformative. 

Once again the watercolour paper offered through Fine Art America and Pixels is 100% acid-free so if preservation of the print is important, you know that this 315 gsm / 19 mil paper is going to provide that longevity.

Metallic Paper

Over the past couple of years metallic paper has been a very popular choice for those who have purchased some of my abstract art, but again the quality between suppliers really does differ greatly. I made the option of metallic prints available for those collectors who buy smaller artworks directly from me a year or so ago, but for anything larger than around 10-inches, I would recommend going to Fine Art America or Pixels as these are generally difficult to print out despite me using a top of the range giclee printer. 

If you are buying from anywhere other than FAA or Pixels you will need to make sure that their printing processes do not ruin the effect of the metallic shine and some printers will smudge the ink before it has chance to dry, others will completely cover the metallic effect. 

There are no such issues when buying through FAA though, their paper is ideally suited for their state of the art printing equipment and it weighs in at a hefty 315 gsm / 19 mil. It is also ideal for flesh tones and portraits. 

Choosing the right canvas…

When it comes to the canvases available in many of the discount and retail stores, there are huge differences in quality. Again it is important that the canvas is acid-free, and that you choose the correct finish depending on the artwork that you choose. Choosing the wrong finish can give the printed picture a totally different look and feel, so if you are unsure always check with the artist as they will have an idea of which finish will work better for which print. 

If the artwork is a print of an oil painting then the choice is simple. Go for a glossy canvas finish. If you are looking at photographic prints then a glossy canvas will give the photo a fine art appearance. The FAA canvases have a slightly warm tone and are created with a poly/cotton blend which means that they will outlast pretty much anything that you would buy from a discount or chain retailer. 

They weigh in at a whopping 450 gsm / 20.0 mil, which puts them well into the category of the best print canvases available. 

Matte Canvases

If you want a truly close reproduction of a fine art piece then go for the matte canvas options again offered by FAA and Pixels.  The matte finish invites attention and reproduction of original paintings is much closer than with other canvas types. 

This is also made with a poly/cotton blend through FAA and also weighs in at 450 gsm / 20.5 mil. The original canvas is a bright white, so the tone is slightly less warm than the glossy option and once again this is acid-free. 

Many of the cheaper alternatives available elsewhere and especially from discount retailers will be of much lower quality and they are not always printed on acid-free mediums. So if you want your gift to last then paying a little more for the best quality canvas will mean that you are less likely to have to replace it anytime soon. 

Framed Prints…

We have all seen the framed prints offered in discount retailers and whilst they look okay or passable at a distance, they are a world apart from having your print expertly framed and made with the highest quality materials. 

You can purchase my work or the work of other artists through Fine Art America and either choose to have it framed or unframed. Many artists myself included allow our images to be cropped to fit more standard frame sizes, although I think all of us would prefer you to see the full picture without cropping. 

When you buy prints from some retailers they will be delivered only as prints. That’s fine if you already have a frame at home that will fit, but if you want to you can select the option through FAA of adding a frame and expert framers will frame it for you. This really will make a difference to the overall look and presentation of the print. 

There is a real art to framing prints and often the frames that can be purchased from elsewhere will be made of lower quality materials and in some cases can damage the art that they contain. 

There are not many print suppliers that will offer as wide a choice of frames as FAA and Pixels do, and frequently other retailers will charge even more to place the print in the frame. All of the framed work available through FAA comes ready to hang, so all you really have to do is read my previous article on the best way to display your art that I mentioned earlier and then hang it up! 

The other thing to look out for and again this is something that is offered through FAA and Pixels, is how framed prints are finished. This is perhaps the single most important thing when choosing prints that you need to consider. 

Prints from FAA and Pixels are finished with premium Clear Acrylic with a foam core backing prior to being shipped. Many retailers will offer cheap glass with little to no UV protection, and in many cases and especially if no mats have been offered, the glass will stick to the artwork and destroy it if you try to remove the work from the frame in the future. If moisture has built up then it is even worse. 

Not all frames will go with every piece of artwork. Some artwork works better without a frame and when a frame is selected, some artwork works better with smaller or larger width frames. The beauty of FAA and Pixels is that you can see a preview of how the work will look, and you can view it in augmented reality through the Pixels app.

I know that many of my artist friends and myself included always consider which frames our art would work well with, as we do with the various print mediums. My latest artwork “Free Spirit” works with pretty much any medium and frame, but some of my abstract works work better with specific frame types and mediums. 

One of the biggest differences that you will find when you buy from independent and local artists over buying in discount and retail park locations, is that the artists have lots and lots of experience with each of the mediums because they are the ones who produce the original art!

Other than visiting retailers such as The Great frame Up, Framing and Art Centre, and Deck the Walls, many other retailers might not have the experience to suggest what works best with specific pieces of art. The locations I just mentioned partner with Fine Art America so when you do purchase an FAA artists work through those, then you will know that you are receiving the correct advice and that the art is still coming through an official retailer.

If you are still unsure then contact any of the FAA artists featured in this article and on the artists spotlight page on this site and they will provide you with the best advice. After all, no one knows an artists work like the artist who produced it!

Just one more thing on framing, choosing a mat or two mats can protect your artwork from damage. Matting is often overlooked, good quality matting makes a huge difference to any artwork. Matting will add layered depth to the finished piece and you can choose from a huge spectrum of colours in various widths. You can layer the mat with both a top and bottom mat and it helps keep the work away from the acrylic or glass so as not to cause damage. It also adds to the aesthetic of the work and draws the viewers eye to the focal point of the work. 

Museum Quality

We have covered the mediums that you should be looking out for and now we need to talk about the elements that make great prints even greater. 

Stretched canvas prints are beautiful and around 80% of the art I produce is sold on a stretched canvas. Whilst many of the canvases purchased in retail locations are unframed, you can get them framed through FAA and Pixels and they really do look stunning. 

The canvases sold through FAA and Pixels are of a very high quality and we have already looked at some of the finishing options, but the devil is in the detail and there is a huge difference between budget prints and museum quality stretched canvas prints. 

Most of the time you won’t be able to choose between wraps but with FAA you can. The image that you choose is printed on to a premium canvas and then stretched on a wooden frame of 1.5”x1.5” stretcher bars for gallery wraps, or 5/8” x 5/8” stretcher bars for museum wraps.

Museum wraps for me are simply magnificent and especially for the larger works. Gallery wrap is a process where the image wraps around the frame that it is mounted onto, and a portion of the image is then seen around the sides of the frame creating a visually more appealing work whichever angle you view it from. 

Museum wraps are different in that the entire image is seen on the face of the print. The sides of the canvas that wrap around the frame are left white, black or mirrored. I personally prefer the mirror, and much of my work is designed with museum mirror wraps in mind. The museum wrap is a format that is used especially when important details within the edges of the art may be lost on a gallery wrap.

Mirrored museum wraps are a compromise of the two formats, although you may prefer to have plain white or black sides instead. 

Other Mediums…

If you want to buy a totally unique art print then you might want to consider some other types of mediums which have become popular over recent years. In many cases the type of medium can make the art stand out even more. 

Acrylic Prints…

Acrylic prints add stylish lines and added depth to your chosen image and are particularly stunning for the presentation of modern works. Your chosen image is printed onto the back of a ¼” thick sheet of clear acrylic. The high gloss of the acrylic sheet compliments the rich colours of any image to produce stunning results.

If you have a modern image with vibrant colour, acrylic is one of the first options that you should consider. The images are very sharp and vibrant and look exceptional when displayed in modern spaces. Acrylic prints are also fantastic for display in public areas and are what many of my pieces that go into office spaces and hotels are printed on. 

One of the best ways to display an acrylic print is to use steel fixing posts. These make the work stand out from the wall slightly and really do draw in the eye of the viewer. 

Aluminium Mounting Posts: Attach your print to your wall with four aluminium mounting posts. The cylindrical cap of each mounting post can be removed, allowing you to thread a small screw along the centre axis of the post and into the wall.   When you're finished, simply reattach each cap, and you're done. The mounting posts act as stand-offs and keep your print separated from the wall by 1". All of the required mounting hardware (i.e. posts, screws, and wall anchors) is included with your print through FAA and Pixels, with some retailers though, these would be added extras. 

For the most modern of looks, the mounting post option is the one you need. This option works extremely well on larger prints and where there is less detail in the corners of the artwork. I have to say that this is certainly one of my favourite options for any modern and abstract pieces, and it also looks extremely good with typography wall art.

Or you can opt for the more traditional hanging option using a hanging wire. With this option, your acrylic print is attached to a 1/4" thick black board which has a wooden frame and hanging wire attached to the back. There are no metal mounting posts at the corners. Simply put a suitable fixing in your wall, hang your print from the hanging wire, and you're done. Due to the thickness of the black board and mounting frame, your print is separated from the wall by 1.50" 

Personally and so long as there is only a small amount of detail in the corners I would always go for the fixing posts. Where you have lighting above or below the work, the light will reflect behind the piece and it will look even more stunning. 

Metal Prints…

Metal prints have also been popular over the past few years and these work particularly well in environments such as kitchens. Again there are differences between the metal prints you would find on the high street and those offered through FAA. 

Your chosen image gets printed directly onto a sheet of 1/16” thick aluminium. The aluminium sheet is then offset from the wall by a ¾” thick wooden frame which is attached to the back. Most of the high street and discount retailers will only supply the metal plate without the wood frame at the rear. 

The high gloss finish is particularly suited to vibrant images and produces stunning results. Metal prints are also fantastic for display in public areas. 

Poster and Photo Prints…

If you are looking at lower cost gifts then poster and photo prints are very good options to consider. Whilst many of the high street and discount retailers will also offer these options, not all of them will produce the prints on acid-free paper. All of the papers used by Fine Art America and Pixels are acid-free so you can expect the prints to last for generations.

The ink used in producing photo and poster prints are archival inks which last a lifetime without fading or loss of colour. The prints purchased using lower quality inks or papers will fade over time. 

All posters include a 1” border when you purchase through FAA or Pixels and this is something that many high street retailers and discount stores do not offer. It is important so should you decide later that you would like to frame and/or mat the work, you can and you won’t have to crop the poster or photo print and cut off parts of the picture. 

Other products…

I and my artist friends who sell on print on demand offer our work on a range of collectibles too. This is something that is not always possible when buying from other retailers. If you are after something that is both unique and affordable and if you are unsure that a framed or canvas print will be able to be hung in the recipients home, then these gifts are for you. 

There are many items that not only offer the opportunity to have an artist’s work on a specific item, but are also very affordable. The quality is very high through Pixels, and most artists will have most if not all of their work available on these products.

The range is varied and the most recent additions for artists selling through Pixels are spiral notebooks with the artwork on the cover, yoga mats which might be extra useful after the Christmas festivities, and now that both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X have been released, artwork from independent artists selling through FAA is available as cases for those together with Samsung cases too. 

You will be able to also find everything from beach towels to home décor items which offer other alternatives to buying traditional art prints as gifts.

Be careful of shipping costs and how art is delivered…

At this point is important that you remember the two things that can really catch you out when buying art online, and they are shipping costs and how the art will be delivered to you. Some online galleries will have limited options for distribution and delivery but with FAA and Pixels, they have a number of distribution centres around the world. This means that shipping costs are lower and the art gets to you quicker. 

Why you should support independent artists…

As I said earlier my art collecting tastes have changed significantly since I started to engage more with the print on demand industry and I have been amazed over the past few years with the quality of art available. 

When you buy from an independent visual artist you really are buying something which is unique, and importantly you are supporting real people too. Independent artists are the life blood of communities and are some of the most passionate people you could ever wish to meet. This really does show through in their work. 

Many are holding down full-time occupations outside of creating their art, and more often than not you will be the first to buy some pieces of their work. Reach out to the artists on social media and they will be more than happy to talk you through any questions you have.

My latest work…

The Art of Mark A. Taylor... Artist, Blogger, Human!

Along with my artist friends I have been producing art for many years. A few years ago I decided to offer my work on print on demand and chose Fine Art America after seeing up close the quality that they provided. It was an easy choice when comparing other print companies and a choice I have never regretted. 

I created my latest two artworks after spending some time at sea over a number of previous summers. Inspired by the fishing villages I have been lucky enough to visit over these past few years I wanted to create something that reminded me that there are many brave men and women around the world who battle the most brutal conditions to bring in a catch for us to consume. 

Not only do they battle the weather and open seas, they’re battling to fulfil quotas and more often than not, hoping that what they manage to catch will meet the costs of spending so much time at sea. Both Free Spirit and Osprey are available on a wide range of print mediums and other art collectibles from my Pixels store and on Fine Art America. 

These were a real departure in terms of artistic style for me, usually I favour more traditional landscapes and abstractions but I have enjoyed the creative process for both of these pieces so much that I plan on creating more of them. 

Stretching back over the years my portfolio has always favoured seascapes and landscapes which include water, many of them created using blue palettes so these pieces have a real fit with some of my earlier works. 


Free Spirit art by Mark Taylor Fine Art America

osprey artwork by Mark Taylor Fine Art America

Free Spirit and Osprey are now available from Fine Art America and as a museum quality print or other art collectible on my Pixels site at https://10-Mark-taylor.pixels.com 

All of my work is available on the products and mediums listed and each comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. 

So who are the very best independent visual artists on Print on Demand?


best artists on Print on Demand 2017

SHELLEY WALLACE YLST

I have known Shelley for a long time now, but I have known of her work for much longer. She is a truly talented watercolour artist and her works show more than an awareness of the beauty of the everyday in an extraordinary display of talent. Her work is always vibrant and fun.

Her works also exemplify the mediums expressive potential and she produces consistent works. There is never a doubt that the work you are looking at is a Shelley Wallace Ylst creation. I see the work on my Facebook timeline and immediately, the colours pop, the lines are consistently drawn, each piece impressively executed and you feel a sense of ease and overwhelming joy when viewing her work. It really is that good.

Shelley told me that: “I fell in love with watercolours in high school, studied at the University of Utah and have been painting ever since.  I love the spontaneity and transparency of watercolours and I paint in vivid, rich colours.  My art is always evolving and full of joy”.   

I quite often notice when perusing social media that her style is often mimicked, but the colour never pops as it does on a work from Shelley, nor do they portray anywhere near the same sense of quality, care, and joy. Shelley Wallace Ylst is certainly a name to look out for, and I would advise buying her work immediately. I do not say this lightly at all, I have seen some impressive work in galleries around the world, this is certainly on a par.

You can view Shelley’s work at https://shelleywallaceylst.pixels.com and also at https://society6.com/shelleyylstart and over at https://redbubble.com/people/shelleyylstart and you can follow Shelley at  https://facebook.com/shelley.ylst.art 

CAROLINE EVANS 

Another artist friend who has exhibited widely and won a number of major awards for her work is Caroline Evans. What can I say? Caroline’s work often leaves you open mouthed and her work demonstrates the intense emotion and passion of the artist herself. 

Caroline’s artwork is exceptional and glorifies the beauty of nature, both fauna and flora, and continuously evolves. The release of each new work is always something that one looks forward to, portraying real and raw world and human issues through narrative illustration, colour and strong imagery/symbolism, bringing visual delight without detracting from her message.

Caroline views life through colour and this is evident throughout. Her works are always consistent, and much like Shelley Wallace Ylst, her works are instantly recognisable. She’s also a talented book cover artist and illustrator.

Caroline also feels deeply about quite a few issues, not least the destruction we are wreaking upon our beautiful planet and the appalling cruelty that is inflicted daily on defenceless animals. This is why a percentage of proceeds made on her Wildlife pieces is given to various animal welfare charities, with which she is involved. She has also donated some of her artwork for auction to help raise funds and awareness for these organisations.

Caroline says “Apart from my ‘realistic’ paintings, most of my artwork is pure fantasy and created not only for the simple enjoyment of being able to use my imagination, but also to hopefully encourage others to use theirs – through vibrant colour and visual stimulation. My more intricate creations encompass a lot of hidden elements, all of which can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer”.

Caroline’s work can be found at: http://carolineevans.net and you can follow Caroline at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Caroline-Evans-Artist-Illustrator/351253865071605?sk=timeline 

COLLEEN TAYLOR

No relation, but you really do need to see Colleens work, in fact you may have already because she is known primarily for her extensive years as a prolific large format wall mural artist within the Colorado and the Rocky Mountain regions. 

An internationally renowned artist who is also a rare blend of both artist and entrepreneurial business person. Her clients range from professional athletes, Beringer Vineyards, Warner Bros, The Denver Broncos Organization, Colorado Rockies Baseball & many professional builders. She has been featured and published in Denver Design Resources, the Parade of Homes, and many other publications throughout Colorado and the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

Colleen has excellent attention to detail and depth of field.  She has mastered the art of creating unique, elegant and stunning paintings from sources within her life.  Her unique approach is to become deeply absorbed in the complexity and challenge of her paintings.  Combining organic traditional paints with the latest technological advances in the fine art field makes her paintings one-of-a-kind works of art.

Colleen is an Image Licensed as well as a Rights-Managed license artist with Licensing.Pixels.com.  

View Colleen’s website here and check out her portfolio here

You can follow Colleen on Facebook here 

Joshua D. Greer 

Joshua D. Greer is the founder and admin of Breaking Arts and Music and not only does he have a Facebook Group which you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447193115581642/ but he also has a website http://www.breakingartsandmusic.com/index.html and a YouTube channel which you can find here: you should subscribe too!

Occasionally I get an email or message from Joshua, always full of wit, and always with a brand new idea. Just how someone can have so many consecutively great ideas is beyond me, but have them he does and I expect that we will see his site, group, and channel grow significantly over the next year because he works so hard, clearly has a passion for the arts, and is genuinely a great guy.

Joshua also creates some magnificent art often depicting space themes and you can see his work on his YouTube channel too. 

Laura Badger

Laura’s is another outstanding artist who’s work is instantly recognisable. Her visual style is reminiscent of Monet. Laura’s works are elegant and offer a sense of peace and tranquility, and you just know that she is putting everything into creating each work. They are all timeless and again another artist who wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end gallery. I really wouldn’t be surprised if one of them represents her soon. 

You can view Laura’s work here. https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-laura-badger.html and follow her on Facebook here

John L. Haldane

If there was ever an award for the hardest working, nicest person, who just happened to be both a talented photographer and digital artist, then there is no doubt about it John Haldane would win hands down. 

Living in Asheville, North Carolina, Johns work has been featured in fine art galleries in Arizona and North Carolina. His work has also appeared in calendars, books, and magazines, and in such publications as The Scenic, The Laurel of Asheville, The Writers and Artists Quarterly, COSTCO Magazine, Wild WNC News, Camera in the Wild Magazine, and more. 

That in itself is testament to the quality of John’s work. His work showcasing Downtown Asheville’s Drum Circle, or his photography of The Blue Ridge Parkway, makes you want to visit Asheville immediately. One day I will drop in for a coffee John! His photography is not only technically outstanding it is artistically outstanding too and it’s rare to have both. 

You can see John’s work here https://john-haldane.pixels.com and if you are in Downtown Asheville on a Sunday, you can catch him at Zapow Gallery http://www.zapow.com You can also follow John on Facebook here

Jane See 

Jane is one of the best abstract artists in a generation. Her works are filled with her passion for fine art. Technically outstanding and often depicting seascapes, her works always show a simplicity and elegance that shines through. But her work extends beyond seascapes, her floral art in particular provides a peacefulness and tranquility showing that she really has a mastery of her artistic style. With each piece taking on a less is more approach that is so missing from many modern abstracts, minimalist, and impressionist pieces available elsewhere. 

Jane’s work was part of a display in the SCOPE Art Fair in Miami and was nominated for the People’s Choice Award in December 2013. She has also exhibited in the #CreativesRising digital exhibition in New York City and was part of a globally recognised projection campaign throughout New York City with thousands of other inspiring artists. 

You can view Janes work here  and follow Jane on Facebook here.  

Cliff Wilson

Cliff Wilson is an artist from Ashland, Massachusetts. His works include historic and current views of Ashland, whimsical works, vintage cars, and views of beauty as he sees it. He is a graduate of Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts and another talented individual who’s work stands out amongst so many other artists. 

His current and historic views of Ashland are amongst the very best available of the region and are again both technically and artistically excellent. Many of his works are presented with vibrant use of colour and his subject matters are never mundane, they offer a glimpse into one of the most beautiful parts of the USA. Aside from his artistic photography Cliff also paints some of the most inspiring scenes of Ashland life so there’s quite literally something for all tastes. 

You can see Cliff’s work here https://cliff-wilson.pixels.com/ and follow Cliff on Facebook here. https://www.facebook.com/Walkabout-Art-502553026431174/ 

Tanya Unger 

Tanya herself is a breath of fresh air as are her works. Not only is Tanya one extremely talented artist but she also designs jewellery which depicts her artwork. Each piece is individual and exclusive, and her paintings are simply on another level altogether. 

Her mastery of the acrylic pouring technique is evident throughout her works and if pours alone wouldn’t convince you to take a look, then take a look at the enhanced pours and added visual elements because these truly are some of the best pour pieces I have seen. 

Pouring is popular but not every artist can pull it off as well as Tanya does. To reach this level of skill takes decades of professional experience and dedication and this comes through in every piece she creates. 

Now this is another example why you are missing out on some of the best artwork available, and if you are a gallery owner Tanya is a definite candidate for representation. Unafraid to experiment, and working on every aspect of her artistic business, Tanya really is the whole package. 

You can see and buy her work through her Facebook business page here. https://www.facebook.com/TruStarFineArtsandJewelry/ 

John M. Bailey

John M. Bailey is a fine art photographer whose work is some of the best photography I have ever seen. Technically it is phenomenal and John’s photography of the USA wouldn’t look out of place in any of the large art institutions across North America and beyond. Yes, it’s that good. 

John is blessed to live in Florida and his photography of this magnificent State often reminds me of the many visits I have made to many of the areas John has photographed. But it’s not just his Florida photography,  it is his photography from his extensive travels around the USA and beyond that makes John one of the best fine art photographers of today. In particular his work showing the Grand Canyon should be on your must see list particularly if you have ever visited. 

You can see John M. Bailey’s work here https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/9-john-bailey.html and follow John on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/John.M.Bailey.Photography where he is very active and like me, manages groups supporting artists from around the world. 

Leah McPhail

Another fine art photographer and artist who is also truly outstanding is Leah McPhail. From Pomona, California, Leah tackles every piece of work with a love for life and her baseball photography is some of the best you will ever see. In some ways it’s reminiscent of Charles M. Conlon’s work, who for those who don’t know, was one of the greatest photographers of America’s most loved sport. Leah’s baseball photography of local teams has the raw grittiness that many sports photographers just don’t seem to have. I don’t say this lightly either. 

I’m a Brit so my understanding of baseball should be less than it is, but I am literally obsessed with the sport. I’m also a life-long Dodgers fan and have poured over baseball photography for years. Leah’s work is definitely up there. 

Her artistic talents extend to the creation of digital art too, and her landscape photography is very special indeed. Leah probably isn’t expecting this piece to appear but she’s also not only a great artist, photographer, and all round nice person, she’s also an admin of a couple of my Facebook groups and does a tremendous job to support me and the groups. She also got me to switch over to eating organic food and for that I truly thank her. 

You can view Leah’s portfolio here https://leah-mcphail.pixels.com/ and she also offers a range of her works on Zazzle too. You can also follow Leah on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/leahmcphailphotography/ 


choose an independent visual artist this Christmas

If you need a reason...

If you need a reason to support independent visual artists then this article is packed with them. Every artist within this article brings something unique to the art world that you just cannot find anywhere else. 

By supporting these artists not only will you be the owner of a unique piece of art which you might just want to hold on to rather than give it away as a gift, you will be supporting the artists passion. 

As I said at the beginning of this feature, if you only ever look for the biggest names in the industry or you visit Art Basel or one of the many world class shows and exhibitions, you really are still only touching the surface of what the art world really has to offer. 

I get it, for years I did the same thing. If it wasn’t trending at Basel it would never appear in my collection. That was until I realised there was a smarter play when collecting art. I realised I could own more unique art that hasn’t been sold to the masses for less. I could affordably surround myself in artwork that hadn’t been sold in the discount chains and the quality was every bit as good as I would have got paying ten times the price. It will last for generations and I knew that I was making a difference to those who just like me, are trying to  make enough to continue creating artwork and adding to the history of art, even in a small way. 

Print on demand artists could really be the next new artistic movement and that’s something you really do want to be a part of. One day they could and will be discovered, a few of them already have, but these are the artists who could very well become the new artists at Basel. Do you really want to miss that opportunity to own one of their works right now?

Follow them, look through their entire portfolios and ask yourself where else you would find such a broad range of art. I’ve visited some of the best galleries and museums in the world over my many years of being involved with the arts and I can honestly say that if these artists were in a gallery together, it too would be world class. 

About Mark…

Mark is an artist and blogger who has been creating art professionally for more than 30-years. His work is sold around the world and he specialises in landscapes, abstracts, and often receives commissions to produce book covers. 

His work is available in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada, including Framing and Art Centre, The Great Frame Up, and Deck the Walls. You can see Mark’s latest works here, https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com and you can follow Mark on Facebook here. https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia 

Proceeds from Marks art sales go towards the upkeep of this blog which aims to support local and independent visual artists. Mark also has three Facebook groups for artists, The Artists Exchange, The Artist Hangout, and The Artist Directory, where a vibrant community of artists and art lovers support the arts and each other. Head over to Facebook and check them out, link details can be found on Mark’s Facebook Beechhouse Media page.


give the gift of art this Christmas


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