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.

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