This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 16/11/2017.
Why this dad is giving his paintings away for free by hiding them in Croydon and Wallington for people to find
A Carshalton dad and artist is giving away dozens of his works of art for free by leading his fans on a “treasure hunt”.
Doug Shaw, 52, has hidden more than 130 paintings in towns all over the world – including Australia, America and Spain – since dropping the first one off in Wallington last April.
After covering them in water-resistant cellophane, the father-of-one hides them every week and posts video or picture clues on his Facebook page giving hints to where they are.
The first person who finds and wants the picture gets to keep it for free.
Mr Shaw, also known as The Consulting Artist, said: “I’ve had an interest in art for years, probably since I was a kid, but the spark for this was actually my daughter [Kiera, 14].
“Back in 2011 I was trying to encourage her to make a card for her granddad, my dad, and to do that I made my own card too.
“The following year, I lost my dad and making art became part of my recovery process – a creative outlet which helped my to grieve.
“That in turn got me into making postcards – when I went away, I’d paint a postcard rather than buying one and that was the start of the idea to make art for the community.
“I wanted to get to know more about the area that I live in and the people who live here because I discovered the hard way that you can live in a place for most of your life and not really be involved in that community.
“I have met friends and contacts through these art drops that I never would have known otherwise.”
The eye-catching designs which he gives away are most commonly painted with either watercolours or acrylic paints, and often feature gold or silver leaf details.
One hidden in Holmwood Gardens, in Wallington, earlier in November featured three poppies in honour of Remembrance Sunday.
The majority of the paintings are original works but Mr Shaw said he does leave prints “occasionally”.
“Sometimes I find out who picked up the picture – which is great – but a big part of the project is that once the art is out there, it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to whoever finds it first,” Mr Shaw explained.
“People seem to enjoy the chase and find it good fun – like detective work.
“It’s also a way of getting me out there and, because I do the drops every week, it keeps me practicing art regularly.”
When Mr Shaw is not painting, he works full-time as an organisational development consultant – but tries to find ways to incorporate art into his job.
“My job and my art feel connected to me and there is a lot of overlap,” he said.
“I’ve always seen art as a way to bring people together.”
Mr Shaw will be hiding a painting in Croydon for the first time on Saturday, December 2 and said he hopes to hide more in Croydon town centre in the future.
For more information on how to find this piece, visit www.facebook.com/ConsultingArtist