View Full Version : 2015 Guild of Aviation Artist Expo

Chas McHugh
07-17-2015, 01:07 PM
Now online at:


07-17-2015, 08:59 PM
Some nice looking work they have posted. Thanks for the link, Chas.

07-18-2015, 07:41 AM
For some reason (Most) of those paintings look more like poster advertisements from the 30's, some nice signwriting on them and they would look great

But as a painting you would hang on the wall...nah

Not really that impressed.........

we see much better work here :thumbsup:

Chas McHugh
07-18-2015, 08:21 AM
For a decade now I have been critical of the politics of the GAvA whilst wishing that they could realise their full potential in inspiring and educating up and coming artists. I still recommend membership to anyone who sincerely wishes to develop their work alongside a mentor at the Regional meetings.

Much of my displeasure was born of the annual exhibition, and specifically the financial penalties imposed upon artists wishing to paint on anything larger than 30"x20".
In summary, the 'annual' had become a members clearance warehouse for small rapidly painted artworks without the balance of larger quality works. The costs involved in display made participation financial suicide leading to the professional artists not fully integrating into the event, and thus the quality of the event was not indicative of the full potential of its members.

It pleases me very much to witness the 2015 exhibition as being a potential turning point. There are large sized works at prices indicative of artists whose livelihood depends on sales. Not all the expensive works are from established 'names' though such people remain well represented. This tells me that the judging panel have given a yes/no based upon the artwork itself rather then who painted it or the price tag attached go it. I notice a theme of some of the better artists pricing a 'banker' inexpensive work that is certain to sell as well as both realistic and more ambitious pricing.

I firmly believe that an artist should be able to paint as large as he sees fit and recoupe (through sales after commission) his expenses involved in potentially x3 journeys to London. They being handing in day - event itself - recover unsold works. I hope that the signs of change apparent this year flourish. Frankly I would very much welcome the Guild going from strength to strength. ( although not with me as a member :wink2: )

07-18-2015, 08:43 AM
Whatever the politics behind it all it is a lovely way to spend a few hours and have a chat with some of the artists.
:applause: Thanks for the reminder http://www.gava.org.uk/

It also makes a lovely walk from Liverpool St station along the Thames ,Trafalgar Sq etc :)

Public Opening Times
Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 10am - 5pm
Thurs 10am - 8pm
Sun 10am - 12.30pm

07-18-2015, 02:33 PM
There are some lovely pieces and it is hard to choose a favorite!

07-21-2015, 04:32 PM
Went there today ,some lovely works of art,i didn't get a catalogue so didn't see how much they were going for.It seemed very quiet.

07-21-2015, 06:28 PM
I guess a contentious subject but just looked at the catalogue online and at some of the prices--good luck if they can get it but well out of my price range.I guess they are worth what people will pay.

07-21-2015, 06:50 PM
The market for aviation art is a small one. Most people don't have the spare cash to buy originals in today's world. Even prints are a hard sell. The age group that likes this type of art is getting a little long in the tooth.

Chas McHugh
07-21-2015, 08:25 PM
In Shrewsbury there is a High Street Gallery in which paintings are often in the 100k region and distinctly average street scenes by contemporary artists 4k. You pay peanuts; you get chimps. There has been little or no increase in the value of contemporary art since 2004, and it is high time the value edged forward.

07-22-2015, 06:00 AM
If you make the value higher who on earth can afford it,you could completely price art out of the market.
Anyway good luck to them ,a nice enjoyable few hours ,well worth the visit.

Chas McHugh
07-22-2015, 11:13 AM
The exhibition is 453 paintings. IIRC, there are only about 60 +- priced at over 1000. A good frame will cost 100-150, making a framed oil painting with professional quality paints on canvas costing in the region of 200 in materials alone. Commission is payable; and the last time I checked, it was 40%.

That is 40% of list price having already paid an entry fee and travel costs. It soon adds up to the artist paying for someone to purchase their work from them aka negative equity.

Sale price 1000
Commission 400
Production 200
Entry 30+-
Leaves 370+- for travelling expenses and if applicable Tax. It is reasonable to assume three journeys to London associated with the exhibition. From the Midlands; it is not financially viable.

07-22-2015, 11:50 AM
^ Fully agree :(

07-22-2015, 01:15 PM
I agree ,it's ridiculous :( Surely then the purchaser and artist will come to an agreement for it to be bought before or after the end of the exhibition.

07-22-2015, 03:49 PM
If you take into account the percentage of the population that can afford that price (probably top 5% of earners), the percent who are interested in aviation art (probably less than 3% of them), the percent who are actually looking to add to their aviation art, and the percent who have to talk their wives into buying it. That's a very small audience. It's true the galleries take too much. On the other hand the galleries have a lot of expenses and most go out of business. Property leases are eye watering in today's world around here. Then there's the cheap knockoffs from China at probably 25% local prices. Why we ever decided our labour could compete against developing nations labour in any field was a no brainer. Sure there's lots of money to be made, but it's not by the local craftsmen or labour force.
Some established artists do well, but the buyers have to think your arts going up in price. They're often buying your art as an investment. For unknown local artists, good luck, but I wouldn't pin your retirement dreams on it.

Chas McHugh
07-22-2015, 07:18 PM
The unexpected element of potential customers for me lies in where the demand is. A long time ago I assumed (wrongly) that a Cold War/Korean War/Viet Nam war collector base was waiting in the wings. This has not been the case and what is left of the saturated aviation art market remains with WWII and to a lessor degree, WWI. I find the demand for signatures on prints a little unsavoury and akin to vulture like behaviour.

My opinion however has always been that aviation art lacks the finesse of historical works of the great masters. If someone could unlock the reason why and make the resolve their own; there is a living to be made out of art incorporating an aviation theme. (Wording chosen very carefully) I do not think that simple portraits of anything including mechanical subjects will ever attract pop star incomes, however well they are painted. ....and if a painting does not ooze a storyline, you are wasting your time, for it will not be able to nurture emotional interest with customers.

Of course there are millions of artists to whom the business side holds no interest. They paint what they want, how they want, and when they want. For these people, the GAvA exhbition is an annual get together of like minded folk and a chance to view the works of their peers without an iota of business accumen. For them the exhibition serves a purpose, and as has already been mentioned here, provides an opportunity for several very enjoyable hours that can be spent exploring the techniques of others and admiring the weekend artists for whom financial reward is not a factor in their life. I have to give some kudos to the GAvA for the online exhibition which of course provides an insight globally. I do not think the Canadian or US equivelents do the same which is a pity.

07-23-2015, 06:47 AM
Slightly off topic, but The last part of Chas's post above almost suits me to a 'T'
I paint my way, and the subjects I like, fortunately not for a living. I seem to have hit the right 'niche'. I do not go out to sell, however I seem to have gathered a small following of people interested in the same things as me, and I quite regularly send paintings abroad often more than one.
I think this is due to the following reasons. My outlay is minimal, my style is easy, quick and amateur, but fortunately realistic enough to be easily recognisable by interested parties. I seldom charge more than the cost of filling the tank of a 4X4 +P&P. I probably donate about as many as I sell, quite a few Ship Associations have raffeled donated pics.
The current exhibition of my paintings at the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum Project at Loch Ewe came about because I offered to donate a Convoy painting, through this I was asked to put on an exhibition, in conjunction with a local Hotel and Restaurant. One third of any sales to go to the project. Two of my paintings are now in Russia in one of our Consular offices.
Hope this is not too far off topic, but the old saying 'cut your Coat to the Cloth you have' comes to mind.


07-23-2015, 07:38 AM
Very interesting comments gentlemen.


07-23-2015, 12:08 PM
I wouldn't agree with Chas that Aviation Art lacks the finesse of the great masters. I think there are plenty of aviation artists who would hold their own against the masters. I think it's more the case that you will never get that world wide appeal for an aviation picture no matter how good it is . The interested aviation audience is limited , the discerning audience among them even more so.

Chas McHugh
07-23-2015, 02:34 PM
I confess that after making my comment; I browsed the art of James Dietz and did consider if I was being a little harsh. My point is though that for example you take a Stubbs painting and replace the horses with a WWII fighter or small twin engined fighter/bomber and you have artwork the likes of which I have not seen. Perhaps as Stubbs is long gone I should venture into such a composition as a challenge. One artist who I hold on a pedestal is Cuneo - his railway art is inspiring but then you visit the worlds top galleries and suddenly even the best contemporary works seem to be lacking something. Perhaps it is 'age', (no me but the canvas') but I cannot put a finger on it with any certainty. I recall an incident in the RAF Museum when I stood and stared for an eternity at a Wootton original - so long as to attract unwelcome attention from the in-house security! The artists skill was incredible but I still cannot imagine it hanging in the Louvre.

07-23-2015, 10:48 PM
If there was no such thing a photography we would all be making a fortune :cool:

Chas McHugh
07-24-2015, 02:36 AM
Interestingly I read in the last few days that because HD video (& better all the time) is now available at inexpensive prices; photographers business is considered under threat. I have not done so myself but apparently you can pull a still off a video that looks like it was a photograph from the outset.

If the kit required was prohibitively expensive than professional photographers would simply need to move with the times. But the kit is relatively inexpensive, and thus everbody is a photographer!

07-24-2015, 03:43 AM
Gone are the days when you only took photos of special occasions ,now everything is recording everything and consumer cameras are capable of very high quality shots.Todays phones have more megapixels than my first DSLR [Canon D30] 3 MP's :).I was brought up on all manual Zenits,Prakticas etc.
The difference is everyone may have a camera type device BUT a very large percentage don't understand why and how they get the photograph.Ask them about ASA's Apertures ,depth of field etc and they say "i just let the auto setting do it " ,the mystery and magic behind the photo has gone.
The other thing is ,even if you get it wrong in the camera ,the computer can often make it right.
Here is a question-- After i had been to the GaVa exhibition i popped into the National portrait gallery just the other side of Trafalgar square and saw some cracking portraits and some i have to say that looked like a 5 year old had painted [but art is in the eye of the beholder] also some portraits that were so photo realistic i did wonder if they were photos or paintings.
If these photo realistic paintings are so real why paint them? --because you can and want people to go WOW, to me something is lost ,the painting side has gone it has just become a replication of a photo.
I remember someone saying about art and maybe digital art is that it can reproduce something that cannot be got now ,i e an extinct creature,aircraft, way of life that has long gone,it can give an indication of what once was although CGI now is so good that even prehistoric monsters can be bought back to life on a screen where before it would have had to been a drawing,painting.
Art has got to be art or it will die ,replaced with cgi.
Bear in mind this is years old https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bdoWZbvXps

07-24-2015, 07:27 AM
Good thoughts Trumper . Why do I paint? Because I want to share my feelings about an aircraft , ship or landscape with others who may not have seen or be aware of the subject or who are very familiar with the subject and share an interest and liking of it . That said there is little point in painting a simple portrait that could be easily equalled or surpassed in accuracy and beauty by a photo . I try to bring some element of uniqueness to each painting even if it's just an angle . location or lighting that you would be rarely seen or photographed . Even just moving a view point out a little from a hillside to a virtual spot in thin air sets that view apart from say a land set photo or painting from the same general location.
As Chas says , even better if you can weave a story into the image .

Pete Hill
07-24-2015, 10:21 AM
Down here in Australia, its getting progressively tougher to make a living as a professional photographer. With relatively in-expensive digital cameras and even mobile phones able to take high-quality photos, a lot of amateur photographers are able to achieve professional-like images. Why hire a professional photographer for your wedding when your little brother with his iphone can take all the shots? A lot of newspapers and magazines are laying off many of their in-house photographers- a regional paper near where I live just last year sacked 3 out of their 4 photographers and the guy that was left was now expected to do the same work as 4 people.
And several major sporting events in Australia no longer pay for an official photographer. Instead they advertise for one who is prepared to do it for free (and provide his/her own equipment and transport) and in lieu of money, receive 'exposure' which will help their career. Hmmmm, I might try that next time I hire a plumber. I'll propose that instead of paying him, I will tell all of my friends what a great job he did and thus give him all this amazing 'exposure'.
I remember reading about how back in the mid-19th century, a lot of seasoned professional painters were aghast when squeezable tubes of ready-made oil paint became available for the first time. This meant you no longer had to buy the pigments in powdered form and you (or your young apprentice) no longer had to grind, blend and mix your own oil paints, a process that required considerable skill and experience in itself. This caused an explosion of amateur painters onto the scene in Europe, especially France and a steep rise in would-be professional painters producing portable, smaller canvases intended to appeal to the new middle-class market. Many of the older painters were horrified at the little up-starts flooding onto the scene. I guess they felt the same as highly-trained professional photographers do now.