Selling Artwork Effectively


You are not accepted as an artist until your artwork sells. If you want to survive as an artist you need to know what paintings sell best and what you need to do to get your art sold.

Selling artwork: The sea in action.

A5 watercolour: The sea in action.

Which paintings sell quickest?

Is it paintings with…..

  • Bright bold dramatic paintings with simple format?
  • Should paintings be unique or fanciful?
  • Have interplay of warm and cool colours?
  • Have emotional blur verses definition focus?
  • What is most acceptable to public: abstract format, creating illusion suggestion or precise authenticity?
  • Should artists adhere to the latest trends?
  • What of dramatic action? Example: seascape with clear wave breaking around a lighthouse or over rocks with spray.
  • Paintings with life in them, eg: people and children, wild animals.
  • Dramatic weather conditions, eg: sunsets or stormy skies.
  • Does the price make a difference?
  • Big or small paintings?
  • Best venue, right place and time?

Unexpected sales:

The very painting you think won’t sell sometimes sells first! Why because it generally has one of the following attributes:

First impressions when selling artwork:

  • Paintings with bright colours and simple format certainly attract peoples’ attention.
  • Emotional impact of colours:  How the combination of colours relate, ie complementary and analogously blends.
  • Instant reaction to the quality: Wether the artist is an amateur or professional: Composition format and how the brushstrokes were applied.


Shrewd gallery owners and investment seekers want to be first in on a new trend. When aspiring artists copy other artists they are judged by those artists’ expertise. Don’t jump on someone else’s bandwagon. Cultivate and get known for your own particular style and brand image.

Emotional impact when selling artwork:

People buy according to their feelings.

Negative reaction:

  • Monochrome paintings are boring.
  • Paintings with only cool colours like blue and green make people feel cold and depressed.

Positive reaction:

  • The interplay of warm and cool colours stimulates peoples’ senses and emotions.
  • Paintings with little children and cute little animals are appealing to the inner parent in us, the need to nurture.
  • Paintings with houses gives comfort, people want to feel safe within their home environment.
  • And sometimes it’s because the buyer has personal attachment or sentimental value to that subject.


  • There must be something about your paintings that allows room for people to fantasize, and take time out from the harshness of reality of life, to make-believe and dream a little.
  • When paintings are seen at different times of the day and in different light conditions, can people see something new, ever-changing and fascinating within your painting? So they don’t get bored with your painting.

Blurred illusions:

People like using their imagination.

  • Precise definition and sharp neat contours throughout a painting suggests hard facts and jolts the flow of visual perusal, and therefore there is nothing left for imagination.
  • Misty scenes and blurring suggests mystery.

Dramatic action:

People enjoy television because there is action. It takes them places. Want to know what happens next, etc.

  • Putting life into your paintings, eg: people, animals, etc.
  • Put action in your paintings, eg: oblique lines and contours, conflicting and contrasting interaction lines and brushstrokes within the composition format.
  • Mash landscapes can be made dramatic with contrast of tones and colour temperatures.

Drama is powerful:

People love power and have an inner need to be in control of their environment. So they are drawn to paintings with dramatic weather conditions. It  gives them a feeling of power. Paintings that make bold statements, such as huge dramatic crashing waves swirling around a lighthouse or a seascape with a clear wave and violent erupting spray seen against a massive rock or cliff face.

Big or small paintings:

My husband thinks paintings should be big. What do you think?

Big dramatic paintings are usually found in large business forays, to impress customers and business associates. But not everyone can afford a large painting for their home. Most modern homes have small rooms and small paintings fit nicely in hallways.

High or low prices:

Quality and expertise must meet the price and demand. Like any business, there needs to be a fast-moving ‘bread and butter line’ too. Selling artwork also depends on what type of market place you are promoting your art.

Selling artwork

Watercolour flower painting


If you want to get your paintings sold you can’t hide your talent. You need to be were the people are, on a tourist route or next to a busy important popular shop, where people are already on foot. Or place yourself in a home based gallery (to cut overhead costs) within an affluent milieu, with easy access parking.

What is your opinion on the topic of selling artwork?

Have you anything to add? Comments are welcome, whether you are an artist or just an observer of what a good painting should be.

More secrets:

What Makes a Famous artist?

What makes an artist famous?

Is it because you have natural talent, brilliant artistic flair? Have an impressive portfolio for gallery acceptance. Have the right composition format. Your paintings have impact and your style is unique.


What do you think makes an artist famous?

  • Do you think having the right connections helps?  Friends or family who owns a gallery? You have a `bishop’ (sponsor) that believes in your talent or you have a great PR agent?
  • Do you think it is okay to be self-taught or have attended university, had the opportunity to go to prestige art colleges in Europe, or trained by a famous artist in Paris?
  • Had a talented background: Won art prizes while at school and internationally. Have a list of noteworthy galleries on your CV where you exhibited at.
  • Having plenty of capital to back your talent, like owning your own gallery and paying for regular advertising?
  • Lucky to have a fascinating out-going character. Be able to tell great stories and experiences to divulge on TV?
  • Being in the right place at the right time?
  • Belong to a renowned prestige art group or painted a famous celebrity’s portrait commission?
  • Media platform: Published art books and magazines or seen doing impressive demos on YouTube.

Artistic flair:

Over and above knowledge of composition rules, the artist must have free aesthetic expression and unique style. Fussy detail and neat sharp contours is a sign of an amateur.

Social networking:

Observe edict policies before joining art groups. But that doesn’t stop you building your own social group with other like-minded artists. And as to your personality –you must be an interesting person to interview, know what you are talking about, without coming across as pushy and aggressive.


Your background and connections do count to some degree. But if you are self-taught (done a lot of research) paint often and your talent is really good, it’s likely that someday someone, somewhere, will believe in your art too. If you persist and market your art frequently. Believe in yourself. Life is what you make of it.

Seen doing your thing:

No one knows you are a good artist unless they see your talent! It’s great to have your own gallery but you need time to produce your artwork. People like to watch artists doing demos or painting out on location, like painting along the sea-shore, doing stage production props or restaurant murals, etc. This gives you the opportunity to be a `big fish in a small pond’ before been accepted as a `great big whale out at sea’.

Celebrity commissions:

It’s not easy getting celebrity portraits unless the standard of your work is well-known. And you have examples of your work to show agents. When meeting with the celebrity and actually doing their portrait, don’t waste their time, be fully prepared with the right equipment, colour swathes, etc before you or they the appointed venue.

Prosperity beliefs:

Most people believe an artist isn’t a good artist unless he or she dresses weird! Some people like ethnic art and think the in-thing is for an artist to live in a hut. On the other hand some believe success is seen as having a posh car and house. Art is an expensive career, so shouldn’t matter where you live. The superiority of your talent should count!

Do you agree with any of these statements?

What do you think? Have you something to add? Looking forward to your comments, whether you are an artist or not. Maybe you have a success story of your own to share with us, what you did to put yourself out there?

Born with talent?


People are always saying that so-and-so was born with talent. Just because someone is a good artist now, doesn’t mean they were actually born with talent?

Free expression

You have to walk along the path of adventure to succeed.

Who WAS born with talent?

Even the old masters started out as novices. They were once babies like you and I, they just fall in love with drawing and painting. The more they practiced their skills the more they improved their talent.

What attracts little children to art?

You will notice, most children are attracted to colour-in colouring books while young. Maybe because of the brilliance and fascination of colour, and then the desire to express yourself. One thing leads to another, and then you are hooked for life!

Are you born with talent?

Yes we all have the germ of talent in us, it just takes an interest in what you like doing. The more you put time and effort into what you like doing, the more your skills improve.

Can you become a good artist?

Often you hear people say, ‘Could they make it as an artist?’ Yes, if you are enthusiastic about your ambition and willing to make time to learn.  Perfecting your skill comes with persistent practice. It’s not the fact that someone is more talented than you. It’s because you love what you do. Success comes with believing in yourself, and living in the moment of creating.

Once `bitten with the art bug’, you see the world differently than the average person. The world around you looks more beautiful, the colours seem more alive. You want to paint that beauty. The urge to paint, to experiment is always there.  I sometimes wonder why I kept at it.  I guess it’s deeply etched upon my soul now. I love sharing what I have discovered and the joy art gives me.

What makes an artist?

The average man in the street doesn’t see the beauty around them. I remember once travelling with some people. They were so busy arguing among themselves that they didn’t see the beautiful haze over the surrounding mountains. When I pointed it out to them they looked at me as if I had gone mad. They didn’t have the right emotional reaction to their surroundings. They were harping on negative emotions. They didn’t see the ‘big picture’!

Artists are born with beautiful souls. Artists arouse their inner souls to perceive beauty, even in the dreariest of situations and environments. They seek beauty, open their hearts to beauty, create a vision from that concept  and pursue every chance they have to paint that vision of beauty.

What really compels us as artists?

I think it’s the emotional impact, the interplay of warm and cool colours, and the contrast of tone and colour. For example, when you observe how the sunlight filters through the trees at sunset and the halos it creates around grass seeds, it swells your heart to overflowing.

born with talent?

What drives you to be creative?

What grips and compels you personally? What colour combinations do you prefer? If you want to find out for yourself, take an illustrated art book or perhaps a calendar, anything with colourful pictures. Turn it upside down, so you are not distracted by the actual shapes of objects in the images, and select the colour combinations you like most. Whatever colour combination turns you on, that is your colour style, the colours you are most likely to use in your paintings.

Even if you are not an artist that paints, but do flower arranging, interior or dress designing, you will be attracted to certain colours and use them in your creations. When you go shopping what colours draws your attention to things in the shop windows? Is it only the cut and style? What else?

What about your talent?

When did you start painting? How did you start out as an artist? What or who inspired you to start painting? What are you going to do about your  talent?  Please leave a comment, it will encourage and inspire others to do something about their own artistic talent.