How Internet Shopping Moved Our Cheese in the Arts

Who moved my Cheese?

Cheese & Olives, Claes Oldenberg, Gr 10 student


You may have heard of the 1998 Bestseller ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ by Spencer Johnson.  It’s a cute but cautionary parable about two little mice called ‘Sniff’ & ‘Scurry’. They’re locked in a maze with two little people called ‘Hem’ & ‘Haw’.

‘Hem’ & ‘Haw’ are very complacent, indecisive little fellows. They sit back and happily enjoy the supply of cheese. Assuming it will always be the same, they get quite indignant when things change.


‘Sniff’ & ‘Scurry’
are quite different. They know that something will eventually move their cheese. So they keep moving, always looking for new cheese. Even when it feels scary they risk it all. They understanding that progress is their only true choice.

What’s this got to do with how we appreciate and collect art?

Here’s the surprising truth about the art business.
The Art Establishment (with a capital ‘A’) prides itself on appearing modern and cutting edge.

Yet even contemporary Curators, Art Dealers, Critics, Galleries and Museums are some of the most conservative people on the planet.

They are the art gatekeepers, hoarding their cheese like ‘Hem & Haw’.

The art business has vested interests in maintaining the status quo, mostly concerning money, influence and control over artists and collectors. Naturally, they have resisted the internet’s democratizing influence every inch of the way. 

Until the internet came along and moved their cheese, curators, galleries and critics had the upper hand. Artists had nowhere else to exhibit their work. Collectors had nowhere else to see it.

But artists are a brave and adventurous bunch. They’re a bit  like ‘Sniff & Scurry’.

Gradually as more artists broke away from the gallery system Artist Portfolio Websites began appearing by the late 90’s. A few brave souls even began posting prices. This drove galleries wild. But no amount of condemnation would stop the eventual addition of Shopping Carts on artist websites. 

2014-08 online_shopping250px



I just came across these surprising statistics from a recent Hiscox survey conducted for the gallery and museum industries. There’s no doubt the internet has radically changed how we look at and and consume art today.


  • 71% of art collectors have bought art online sight unseen.
  • Buyers of all ages are making art purchases online.
  • Art buyers want to purchase art with little or no contact with the intermediary (the gallery).
  • Artists selling directly to their fan base is a major trend.
  • Online art sales have grown exponentially and are poised for even more growth.
  • Online platforms are major incubators for emerging artists.

The genie is definitely out of the bottle.

I confess to being really slow looking for new cheese. The past twenty years of my art career has been focused on developing gallery relationships and now the world has turned.

So I’ve finally taken the plunge and posted prices for my paintings on my website.
Hopefully you’ll see something you can’t live without.  ;-)
For your convenience you can contact me direct or purchase through the secure Shopping Cart system.

Check out my Online Portfolio.

 By the way, here are the Golden Nuggets in the book ‘Who Moved My Cheese’.

Change Happens
They keep moving the cheese

Anticipate Change
Get ready for the cheese to move

Monitor Change
Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old

Adapt To Change Quickly
The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese

Move with the cheese

Enjoy Change!
Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese!

Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again
They keep moving the cheese.




Nude Painting Workshop

Last week I drove to picturesque  Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with my van loaded to the gills with art materials. I went  for  a four-day painting workshop, something I haven’t done in five years.  But I felt the need to loosen myself up and think outside of my comfort zone. This workshop was just the ticket.

For years I’ve enjoyed looking at the vibrant and energetic work of internationally renowned California painter, Robert Burridge

Artist Robert Burridge

Hosted by the Cuyahoga Falls Art Center , this was his first workshop near enough to allow me to drive.  The Workshop was called Painting Abstract Nudes.  - So totally out of my element – but it promised to loosen me up.

What a wonderful week it turned out to be !!

Bob Burridge Workshop

Notice how Bob Burridge’s fingers are blurred. He paints amazingly quickly and with incredible joy.

There were about 20 people in the workshop. Each artist was there to learn, while having a great time painting. I came home energized from everyone’s uplifting spirit of joy and camaraderie. 

We each had out own table and painting area. And we had the best live nude model anyone ever had the privilege of working with. As a dancer, singer and drama major she was able to move  into and hold the most interesting positions. Bob timed her with new poses every two to five minutes.

Shirley Williams Nude Sketches, Robert Burridge Workshop

After a while, when the pose is mere minutes long, you stop thinking. You just draw – spontaneously and loosely – searching for the movement; the emotion; the line.  It was total free flowing immersion and I reveled in it.

Although I didn’t come home with any drawings anyone would consider finished, the experience has inspired me in ways I didn’t expect.    Stay tuned for what’s coming next :)

New Show at The Bartlett Gallery

If you happen to be visiting the great tourist area north of Toronto over the next month, drop by my latest exhibition called ‘Vibrations’  at the Bartlett Gallery in Alton, Ontario. Also showing are sculptor Mark Puigmarti and Elena Henderson.

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting either artist, but their work looks amazing.

Shirley Williams Art

The show runs from Nov 14 – Dec 9

The Opening Reception  
Saturday, November 17th

1 pm  -  3 pm     with Cellist Isaiah Farahbakhshrah

Why not make it a week-end get-away !

The gallery is located in the historical Alton Mill Art Centrewith lots of things to do in and around the Orangeville area. It’s also right next door to the renowned Millcroft Inn and Spa. 

Hope to see you there !!

‘Vibrations’ opens at the Bartlett Gallery in Alton Ontario

Live Painting Video

Take a peek at this short video of me painting and talking about my inspirations and methods. It was produced by my global art  licensing agent in Austin, Texas, New Era Portfolio.

Elizabeth Havelock Award Reception

Federal MP Brian Masse, me, Councillor Joanne Gignac

I was recently honored by being chosen as winner of the prestigious Elizabeth Havelock Art Award. It’s an annual award presented to  one mid-career artist who’s made significant contributions to arts and culture in their community.

My husband Jim, me, Federal MP Brian Masse

There were several other cultural group winners that evening being presented by the Windsor Endowment for the Arts.  We all enjoyed a lovely evening in an enchanting, recently revived, historical building. They served the most tasty and tempting appetizers. We were also treated to an exquisite piano recital of Chopin and Rachmaninoff.

Windsor Endowment for the Arts reception

WEA Awards Reception


Open Studio Starts Today

Open Studio & Sale 2 Weekends Only


  • See what a working art studio looks like
  • Grab some original art bargains while they last
  • Miniatures starting at $ 10

Come Visit & Bring Your Friends
3080 Grand Marais Road East (between Walker & Central)

Contact Me
Phone: (519) 980-4852


Shrinking Art Chicago - Sign of the Times

I just returned from a wonderful weekend in Chicago for the annual Art Chicago fine art fair. It was at the Merchandise Mart downtown and ran from April 29 – May 2.

It was quite a surprise to see how much leaner and more regional it was this year. All the exhibitors were on one floor instead of four. This year only about 90 established galleries and 60 emerging galleries participated. By comparison,in 2008, when I was last there, about 500 international galleries from every major art city in the world participated.

Attendance was sparse too. Most people  have other things on their minds these days, I suppose. But there was lots of interesting art to see. The lack of crowds made looking much more enjoyable without all the usual jostling.

For me fine art fairs are a wonderful, time-saving way to get a quick overview of what’s new and noticed in the contemporary art world. It’s a visual feast and I always come back to my studio reinvigorated and eager to work.

Contemporary art fairs are also great for networking, meeting new people and talking about ideas and the state of the art world. The economic downturn has definitely had a major impact on the visual arts in terms of fewer buyers. However, this hasn’t stopped fine artists from continuing to create exquisite and relevant work. Nor has it dampened the enthusiasm of the gallerists who represent them.

Spring Cleaning Never Ends

Way back in January, I decided one of my goals before spring would be to totally Clean, Sort and Organize everything in my studio.

My working methods as an artist naturally cause me  to collect lots and lots of materials. Sometimes things I save actually prove useful. While a lot just takes up valuable space and clutters up my thoughts.

So I decided to de-clutter and and only keep tools and material I actually do use. I was feeling pretty good about the results and was just getting back in the groove of painting with everything close at hand.

Then BAM !

Two large shipments of paintings came back to my studio from exhibitions at the same time. First all the art from the Art Gallery of Windsor solo arrived, then an enormous crate came back from Naples, Florida.

Williams Art Studio

Things looked like this for a few days last week until Harmony, my assistant and I were able to sort and put everything away.

Cool Colors ‘Natural Networks’ – AGW Exhibit

'Natural Networks' ID-1038, 36"x36", (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1038, 36"x36", (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

Here are the 4 canvases in the ‘Natural Networks’ series in the Cool Color range. Each painting is acrylic on canvas and measures 36″ x 36″.

'Natural Networks' ID-1038, 36"x36", (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1038, 36"x36", (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1037, 36"x36", (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1037, 36"x36", (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1039, 36"x36", (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1039, 36"x36", (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

Warm ‘Natural Networks’ AGW Exhibit

'Natural Networks' ID-1036, 36"x36" (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1036, 36"x36" (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

As part of my exhibition at the AGW called ‘Forces of Nature’, is a series of 7 canvases called “Natural Networks”. There is actually an eighth in this series of 36″ x 36″ canvases. But we ran out of wall space. The lonely “orphan” is in the cool colors and deserves the spotlight too. It is included on the next post.  Here are the 4 warm paintings.

'Natural Networks' ID-1032, 36"x36" (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1032, 36"x36" (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1033, 36"x36" (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1033, 36"x36" (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1034, 36"x36" (c) 2010 Shirley Williams

'Natural Networks' ID-1034, 36"x36" (c) 2010 Shirley Williams