Would you paint a picture to match the sofa?
I think I still have a LOT of no-no’s from back then. I had a weird conversation with a friend who said “I am prepared to try any sort of painting as long as…” (and here I mentally said, it does not sacrifice my artistic integrity) but she said “as long as I think it is financially viable” Another lesson!
The same friend told me that the in-colour this year is muted greys and it would be good to paint to complement this. This makes me feel that I live in the dark ages, still not even thinking of market trends.
When I painted the pebble paintings I thought it was a natural. zen-like, personal expression; and original (in that I have added letters in the same way I did to the original pebbles). I also thought it was very saleable and important that it is archival. Each pebble is unique, has words added, and is mounted on blocks painted and sanded and properly finished with Annie Sloan paint. They are sealed to withstand bathroom damp. I painted about 20 of these.
I had them at Art in Action in August 2014 and sold one. Someones said they were overpriced as they are bathroom art (as opposed to sitting room art). There is a lesson in that which I have taken on board. Another person wanted the edges to all match. I loved the variation and thought mix ‘n match is good.
I offered them to a gallery in Burford in November 2014, but they said that as it was winter they should be shown during summer!
Later I had them at Artweeks in May 2015 and sold four (one to my granddaughter Isabel, with a commission from Harriet (6) to do an H). I balked at selling paintings to my own granddaughters but their Mum said “They have money burning in their pockets and I’d rather they bought your paintings than more fluffy toys”.
- If you do different letters on paintings you hugely reduce the chances of selling them. Better to do droplets, feathers etc. on pebbles than letters, as people will only buy a letter if it is their initial. But I am a lettering artist – weep!
- Something like this has to be properly marketed in a nice gallery to give it a sense of value so as not to be confused with mass-produced prints.
- Framed pictures sell better than block-mounted pictures.
- Prices people are prepared to pay relates to the room the work is destined for. Bathroom art should be the cheapest and living room art the most expensive. This is obvious to most people (except me).
- Oil paintings are perceived to have more worth than watercolour paintings, even though I think wateroclours takes more skill. This judgement is based on having done oils for 4 years as a student.
- Prints (e.g. lino or screenprinting) are confused with giclées, and are sadly underrated. It takes 20 times longer to do a run of 10 prints than to create a painting.
- The colours need to harmonise with the room and this season’s colour schemes.
- The subject matter sells best for its emotional appeal more than its artistic merit, so a recognisable landscape is more likely to sell than a general one. (This does not apply to me, as I am not a landscape artist, but I saw it happen with a colleague’s work). In calligraphy, recognisable text – preferably poetry from schooldays e.g. Wordsworth’s Daffodils, sells best.
- It is very hard to sell work at a fair like Art-in-Action – not surprising as there is so much to be tempted by! But it’s good exposure and a very good way to guage what people respond to, even if they don’t buy. I guage largely through my cards which give a fair reflection.
- Pictures are seasonal. Pebbles sell well in the summer. Snowdrops sell in springtime. Snow in winter…
- Thistles are more popular than lilies. Teasels are more popular (and nicer) than pictures of roses. Roses, however are nicer in the garden than teasels. Its just that its very difficult to paint something that’s near-perfect and make it look more splendid!
- Portraits are only desirable if they are your family or celebrities, or tell a story.
- Portraits of animals only sell to people who have that specific breed.
I still have masses to learn – can anyone offer any shortcuts or inside information?
And here’s a thing! Someone told me about a botanical artist who said that when there was one painting that she could not shift, instead of marking it down, she reframed it in a much fancier frame, and hung it in the centre of her display. It always went quite quickly!
But I am pleased to see that my calligraphic dance figures are very popular. I’m just not sure how they fit into what I have learnt!