Q & A with ValueMyStuffs Painting specialist

ValueMyStuff sat down with our painting specialist, Nick Skeaping, for a Q & A. Learn more about why Nick continues to love paintings and get insight into a specialist's valuation.


How did you become an expert in Paintings?

My father was a Royal Academician and the house was always full of painters and sculptors.  I also spent a fair amount of time at The Royal College where he was the Professor of Sculpture during the 1950’s. When I moved back to Devon in 1971 I acquired an antique shop as a home and converted it into a gallery. Initially I started dealing in local contemporary artists augmented by the works of big names that were friends of fathers. I soon realized that modern works would not keep the wolf from the door and began dealing in antique paintings sourced from auctions and the trade. These were lucrative times for the art market with a great many paintings available and an increasing number of buyers both private and trade. I used auction houses to sell some works but preferred the personal contact enjoyed by selling directly to the clients be they trade or private. During this period I made the acquaintance of many people who went on to become important figures in the world of art both future auctioneers and gallery owners.  It was not uncommon to buy 50 works of art in any one week ranging from a few pounds upwards: thus knowledge was gained.

What do you love about Paintings?

The fact that art is a personal expression of the artist’s feelings towards a subject. If a work is successful it will depict something you would not necessarily have seen yourself. Most importantly it will have a painterly quality about it aligned with technical ability. We obviously judge different mediums with varied emotions for instance an oil painting may inspire a different reaction than a print or watercolour of the same subject. I have recently seen the RA exhibition of the work of Anselm Kiefer whose art work is inspiring on so many levels and re-affirms why I got interest in art in the first place such is the originality and technical brilliance of what he does aligned with his towering intellect.
There is one big advantage to collecting art over many other investments in that you can enjoy it by looking at it!

What features of a painting do you look for upon analysis?

Quality, subject matter and thus commercial potential and of course condition. Overall of this rides the importance of the artist although in these selective times the individual image is all-important and a dull work by a great name will not attract the same attention as it once did.

In what ways do these features contribute to a painting’s worth?

In assessing a painting’s value it is important obviously to know what the artist ‘makes’ in auction.  I then balance the painting I am valuing against those records. Other factors come into play including what the work might make retail or in an online sale. If the artist is not listed or the work is unsigned and un-attributable then it is a case of judging its decorative merit and or speculative potential. Quality is looked at as is subject matter and condition and if it is in need of restoration whether that will be beneficial and financially worthwhile.

Why do you think investors look to the art market as an alternative investment source?

There is one big advantage to collecting art over many other investments in that you can enjoy it by looking at it! Stocks and shares and cash in the bank do not inspire the same emotions. There is also the fact that most collectors acquire a great deal of knowledge about their chosen field whereas to most mortals the world of the stock exchange is unfathomable and banking just plain boring.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a paintings collection?

Gain knowledge in your chosen field. Build up a relationship with dealers, auctioneers and other collectors of your subject interest. Do not spend more than you can afford and do not rush to spend what you have set aside for the collection. Always buy quality items in good condition and that will appeal to other people as well as yourself so that when it comes to re-sale there will be a market for what you have acquired.

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