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How to Price and Sell Paintings

So you want to sell paintings?

If you produce a lot of artwork on a regular basis then the subject of  how to sell paintings will become important to you, if for not other reason that in time you will run out of storage space! I have also found that there is nothing like selling a painting to spur you on with your creativity and production.

Some people are happy enough just to retrieve their costs to enable them to purchase more watercolor paper, pigments, and frames, etc. Others who look at art as their profession and would like to generate a regular income from their chosen creative field, need to do more than recoup their costs, they will need to make a regular income and profit! For these the question of how to price and sell paintings must be of great interest. I have known some very good artists in my time who rarely sell their work (even when the want to) and I have known others who produce work which is not so good yet sell regularly. The reason for this is that the selling and marketing of paintings is a very different subject to the creation of them. To be a very successful professional artist you need to be good at both.

Now if you want to know how to sell paintings, then the subject of how to price paintings becomes important.

This subject of how to price a painting has been discussed or considered by every artist who has placed a price on their artwork.

As I spent about 30 years in a sales or marketing role, before opting to become a full time watercolor artist, I felt I could add some useful advice for budding artists.

When trying to price your painting you first have to realize that it is a product, and just like any product it is subject to market forces e.g. a house is a product and its prices go up and down depending on demand. The same applies to a work of art.

Marketers refer to the 4Ps: Product, Place, Promotion and Price, when looking at their product and at what price to sell it.

These same 4Ps also apply to selling artwork. So how do they apply?

So let us look at how Product, Place, Promotion, and Price can be used to sell paintings!

Continue to: Artist’s Products: Watercolor Paintings

Modified Dry Brush or Broken Edge Technique

Modified dry brush

Instead of horizontal or vertical dry brush strokes you can use a more curved stroke using the body of the brush head, which just lightly touches the watercolor paper.

The trick to this technique is to have your brush almost parallel to your watercolor paper, and not to let the point of the brush touch the paper either.

I use this technique when creating the impression of tree foliage for gum trees and other similar trees as in figure 8. I also use this brush stroke when doing skies with fluffy clouds.

Modified Dry Brush Technique to create tree foliage
Figure 8: Modified Dry Brush Technique to create tree foliage
Watercolor Painting Modified Dry Brush Technique for doing fluffy clouds
Figure 9: Modified Dry Brush Technique used to create fluffy clouds

The trick of making this work is not to dab at your paintings but to lightly move the brush over its textured surface.  It works best with rough paper, but can also be applied to cold pressed paper; the smoother the paper the less paint you want in your brush to create the broken edge effect.

Watercolor Brushes Used

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, these edges in these examples are produced with a round brush.  They can however be produced with other brushes, some easier and others more difficult depending on the brush used.

As you master these edges you will find painting water color art will become much easier and they will give you the tools to make some wonderful watercolor paintings.

I hope these watercolor painting tips have been of use to you.

Dry Brush Watercolor Technique : Also known as Broken Edge

Dry Brush Watercolor Techinique

This edge, samples of which can be seen in figure 7, is created by sliding the brush quickly across the surface of your watercolor paper. There are a number of variables however which affect the final result you achieve. If you are using a round brush as in these examples, you can use the point of the brush, the side of the brush with the point touching the paper as well, or use you use just the bulb part of the brush without the point touching the paper. Other variables when using dry brush or broken edge watercolor painting techniques are the angle of the brush to your paper, the texture of your watercolor paper ( Rough, Medium also know as Cold Press or NOT, or Smooth), the brush you are using and the amount of water in your brush (how wet it is). The speed of your brush stroke will also greatly affect the dry brush result.

Watercolor Painting Dry Brush Technique
Figure 7: Dry Brush Watercolor Painting Technique

Dry Brush or Broken Edge brush strokes are great ways to add texture to a scene, such as sparkle on waves at the sea, rough bark on a tree, texture on a road surface, etc, etc. The more you practice creating dry brush strokes the more you will use them to add interest to your watercolor paintings.

Continue to: Modified Dry Brush watercolor Technique

Watercolor techniques: wet on dry

Wet on dry watercolor painting technique

Wet on Dry is the watercolor painting technique you use when you want to place a hard or sharpe edge on your painting, though you can also use it to cover an area with a nice clean watercolor wash, see figure 6.

With the wet on dry technique the paper is dry when you lay down your watercolor wash, think of moping a floor and leaving it wet as you wash it.

The trick here is to make sure you have enough moisture on your brush that the paint mixture will freely flow out from the brush and onto your watercolor paper. It should be fluid enough that once on the paper it forms a bead of paint at the bottom edge of your brush stroke. You use this bead to continue painting down the paper to create a smooth clean looking finish.

Wet on Dry watercolor painting technique, produces hard or sharp edges
Figure 6: Wet on Dry watercolor painting technique, produces hard or sharp edges

Use the bead to help paint a smooth wash. The technique for creating a smooth wash is to keep this bead of watercolor paint flowing down the page. After you lay down your first confident brush stroke with a full loaded brush (a fully loaded brush is one that if you hold it vertically with the point facing down, the paint will drip out of it, but if you hold it horizontally it will not drip). You then reload your brush and your second brush stroke just touches the lower edge of this bead of watercolor causing it to flow down the page before creating a new bead at the bottom of this next brush stroke. It is this continuous flowing of water color down the page that leaves behind a nice smooth finish. Think of it like the sand at a beach as a wave recedes it leaves behind a smooth sandy surface.

If you have a look at my flat wash demonstration, you will see an example of this wet of dry technique.

Now if you create a watercolor wash and while it is still wet you go back into it with another color (this is often referred to as charging by some watercolor artists) then the rules of wet on wet apply.

Continue to: Dry Brush or Broken Edge Watercolor Technique

Controlled Wet on Wet Technique

Controlled Wet on Wet Technique

As the paper dries, during the wet on wet technique, it will arrive at a point where it has lost its shine, now if at this stage you run the point of your brush across this damp section of paper you will see an interesting effect as shown in figure two. As the paper is no longer very wet, at this point it will actually have less water on it than is on your brush. Now what happens is that instead of the watercolor paint just running down the paper, some of it is actually sucked up into the dryer section of the paper – so you can get a whole range of soft to furry effects both up and down from the position of your brush stroke.  I use this edge in many places within my watercolor paintings. This is a great edge I use for creating soft connections of a boat’s hull with the water so it looks like it is floating, I use it when creating certain shadow shapes, for quickly creating trees and reflections on a distant lake shore and I also use it in my watercolor landscape paintings to create a tree line on top of a hill. Its uses are almost endless!

Controlled Wet on Wet Watercolor Technique
Figure 2: Controlled Wet on Wet Technique for watercolor painting
Controlled Wet on Wet Technique, with addition water brush stroke
Figure 3: Controlled Wet on Wet technique followed by a stroke of clean water to create a shore line
Waterline of Boat painted with controlled wet on wet technique
Figure 4: Waterline of Boat painted with controlled wet on wet technique
Distant tree line painted with controlled wet on wet brush stroke
Figure 5: Distant tree line painted with controlled wet on wet brush stroke

When painting with watercolor you need to take advantage of this interaction of water,watercolor paint and gavity, to create the effects you would like to produce.

This is one of the most difficult of edges to conquer as so much depends on timing (how wet is your water color painting), how wet is your watercolor mixture in your pallet and brush, the anble of your board as well as how fast it is all drying; environmental conditions greatly affect your painting and you must be aware of them. When painting watercolor landscapes plein air environmental conditions are even more critical!

Continue to: Watercolor techniques wet on dry