Thistle Fine Art – Past and Present

Obviously, the buyer of an art object will have been aesthetically attracted to it. In order to establish a value for the art the buyer should know as much as possible about the artist, the condition, and the provenance (history) of the work. Provenance is most important for works by an artist (living or deceased) whose work demands exceptional prices, but even with art of modest value the seller’s source of acquisition should be considered. Purchasing art online has become routine as buyers have demanded “full disclosure”. Not just the painting but the seller should be scrutinized. This blog has been created to establish some degree of trust for the prospective buyer.

I’m a retired public-school educator with military and corporate experience. After service in the U. S. Air Force at RAF Kirknewton near Edinburgh, Scotland, I worked for Dun & Bradstreet and Liberty Mutual in the United States before returning to Scotland where I was employed by IBM in Edinburgh for three years. In 1972, I returned to college for a teaching certification and began a new career. It was during that period in Edinburgh that I began buying art.

My interest in the visual arts had been kindled by a 4th grade teacher and I bought my first painting while still at college, purchasing it from an art student for $25 – quite a lot of money back then! My next purchase was a framed reproduction of a modern painting chosen by my wife and me to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, but it was the purchase of a lithograph by Scottish artist Robert Eadie that probably evoked my passion to collect. That lithograph was discovered in a Dallas shop where I had taken a small Thomas Shepherd line-engraving of an Edinburgh scene (still in my collection) for framing. The lithograph (unframed) was bought without any knowledge of the artist, whose status was only revealed several years later in Edinburgh – by a photographic plate in an art book. We were again living in Edinburgh where there was an abundance of sources for buying art so I soon began browsing art and antique shops, attending auctions, and investing hours in the Edinburgh Public Library. Recognizing that good quality art could be bought for prices well below the cost of contemporary art, my early collection was almost entirely 19th and early 20th century watercolors, engravings, and etchings by deceased artists. My first significant purchase was a small watercolor by Sir Ernest George, an imminent 19th century London architect and “holiday artist”. A watercolor by William Smith of a French “Milk Maid” was later acquired for a collection devoted primarily to watercolors. Oil paintings were still beyond my limited means! These two paintings will be included in a future blog describing some of my buying experiences.

Many of the paintings in this gallery were bought after my retirement in 1998, although the inventory includes purchases from as early as the 1970s. After the gallery was established, many of my paintings were sold to pay the rent or for additional inventory. Thus, my collection of personal paintings was not enlarged significantly after the late 1990s. My last significant addition to the personal collection was a large group of paintings by Bill Bailey and Coleen Newport Stevens – Memphis area artists. While the work of these two artists were bought for my personal collection a few were added to the Gallery inventory and others will be offered on this site. Since moving to Rockport I’ve added the work of a few Cape Ann painters to my collection and some of these will also be available for purchase.

As stated on the Home Page, the Gallery started as a website. In fact, it was originally created as a catalogue of my collection. Dozens of framed paintings were stored in racks and an equal number of unframed watercolors and prints were filed in drawers. Recording the collection with text and images was best done with the computer using html files, so in time the catalogue evolved to an Internet gallery.

Sales on eBay were quite successful but the web gallery was getting little traffic, which I attributed to the wariness of buyers and decided a physical gallery would improve online sales. So five years after the creation of the web gallery a small space at 7 Main Street, Rockport, Massachusetts was rented and about forty paintings, watercolors, and prints were featured in the initial exhibition. Those winter days in 2005 didn’t invite a wave of visitors but sales on the website and on eBay increased noticeably. Just a photograph of the Gallery worked wonders to build trust and raise the confidence of online buyers! Gradually, the Main Street gallery business improved and by the end of 2006 Thistle Fine Art was a sustainable business. There were ominous clouds by that time, however, and the Great Recession officially began in December 2007. By the end of June 2009 it was quite clear the doors would have to be closed. At the end of August, 2010, the dream of a Main Street gallery had been realized and finalized.

This current iteration of Thistle Fine Art is designed to outlive me! I have no need to sell my art except to avoid placing a burden on our children to deal with the inventory and collection after my death. The primary purpose of this website is two-fold: 1) to utilize my time in a purposeful way and continue to learn! WordPress was the first challenge and a work in progress, and 2) to create a visible record of the art I’ve acquired – providing a record of the collection for ultimate disposal, and to provide new collectors with an insight into my experience. Most of my art deserves to be enjoyed by future generations. Whether you are a new or a seasoned collector there may be something appealing for you – for a modest investment! During my years of collecting I have viewed hundreds of auctions and galleries, buying and selling a significant volume of art. I’ve occasionally made mistakes, but not many. One of my paintings has been included in an art book and many others have been acquired by discerning collectors and dealers. An offer to buy a painting from Thistle Fine Art will be a good decision!

My intent is to provide an honest and complete representation of every piece of art, and to wait for the right buyer to discover the right acquisition for her/his collection or business. Clearly, when asking for offers the gallery is seeking people who appreciate art and understand a good purchase opportunity. My sales methodology is to provide “full disclosure” with the expectation that at least 50% of offers will be acceptable. All offers will be respected, appreciated, and given serious consideration. I will allow 48 hours after receipt of an offer before responding – to allow time for other offers. Offers below the estimate will either be accepted or provided with one counter-offer. There will be no bidding wars! Payment and insured shipment details will be agreed and confirmed via email to conclude the transaction. PayPal is preferred for secure payment but payment by check is acceptable, and other forms of payment may be agreed.

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© Thistle Fine Art 2024

By Lowe

Retired director of Thistle Fine Art.


  1. I admire your tenacity to do well and good by all those your interact with. You’ve always been the same, with your golden heart and love of art. X

    1. Carol, your comment is really appreciated! As you know, I’ve never been very interested in art as a business. It’s more of a personal passion. Buying affordable art and learning about the artist has been my substitute for golf (or concerts). It has enriched my life immeasurably.


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