Peanuts online

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Randall Cogburn of Alvin, Texas wrote, “Self-taught with little experience, I’m now on Blogspot where my small paintings are for sale and not selling. I’m wondering if what I’ve done so far is worth the price? No one says, ‘Oooh, nice one! I gotta have that little jewel.'”

“Low Rider”
oil painting, 7 x 5 inches
by Randall Cogburn

Thanks, Randall. Your prices ($50.00 for 7″x 5″) are certainly inexpensive. Randall, you need to put the prices right on your site so casual passersby will actually see them — not everyone wants to press “buy now” until they know how much. Second, paint consistently in standard sizes — 6″x 8″, 8″x 10″ etc. — the frames are more readily available. Third, as an option, offer them beautifully framed and make sure you double your money on the frame. Fourth, make your goal to get into galleries at much better prices — and gain credibility and a more professional standing. Fifth, if you want to be “out there” you may also consider eBay, Blogger, Artquest, Artfair, Artgallery, or countless others.

oil painting, 7 x 5 inches
by Randall Cogburn

Randall’s efforts are part of the current trend where everyone and his sister have tiny sketches (peanuts) and “one-a-days” available online at fire-sale prices. Some of our subscribers report they are attracting first-time buyers and helping to make ends meet in tough times. Others say it’s tough all over. Your further input is invited. While the Internet may be a whole new venue, there’s a lot of evidence that you can’t have it both ways. In other words, brick and mortar galleries seldom handle artists who can be had cheaply online. Further, current online artists who opt for the gallery system may need to desist from private selling online. But there’s a wider question. Are we, like the local baker, simply making a line of tarts for popular consumption, or are we engaged in something more lofty and significant? Many would say the difference is passion, and while there are undoubtedly passionate bakers, our painterly productivity needs to be based on a noble drive and not on calculated reasoning and bare commerce. With the chimera of making a living online, artists may be in for downstream distress. Quality develops when an artist falls in love with an often complex and personal process on the way to a distinctive style and a unique vision. Blinded by the possibilities of tiny cash flow, which may not occur anyway, passion is subjugated by price points.

“Indian Style”
oil painting, 5 x 7 inches
by Randall Cogburn

Best regards, Robert PS: “Passion should overwhelm reason time and again.” (Alvaro Castagnet) Esoterica: There are those among us who consider themselves blessed — their work happens to coincide with their passions — and the passions of collectors coincide with those of the artist. Ideally, we’d like to think that the great passions arrive independently of ulterior motive and that the greatest work is developed in commercial innocence. On the other hand, some exciting artists are mainly motivated by greens. I’ll stick with idealism. “On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail, Reason’s the card, but passion’s the gale.” (Alexander Pope)   Randall Cogburn

“Bay View”
oil painting
6 x 8 inches


“Looking Back”
oil painting
6 x 8 inches


“One of those days”
oil painting
6 x 8 inches


“Old rail”
watercolour painting
5 x 8 inches

            Art and sales different by Joseph Jahn, Nibe, Denmark  

original painting
by Joseph Jahn

Never approach painting from a commercial view point. Your work should be always what you wish to do, and never what you wish to sell. Pile the work up and forget about sales for at least 10 years (it’s a test). I once went into a gallery in my first years of painting with some small works at prices that were like yours. The reaction from the gallery owner was “People don’t want cheap paintings.” You are competing with factory artists. My prices are around $300 for a painting the size you offer and have always been around that price. It helps people decide if they are truly interested in your work and your work is truly a top quality painting or they are simply decorating a wall. Self taught or university trained steady sales are earned through persistence and unless you are one of the lucky few, only after years of work. Put your paintings online for sure, but expect no sales through that outlet. I have been all over the Net for five years and have yet to sell one painting that way. My gallery sales are fine and my private sales are also. Believe me sales and art are two very different areas. Only a good gallery can give you the start you are looking for, and they need to see a solid body of work before they will consider carrying an artist. Good luck, on your long journey or forget sales and enjoy painting. There are 6 comments for Art and sales different by Joseph Jahn
From: Debbie — Oct 29, 2010

I totally agree with your point of view. However, there are a few that seem to sell everything they put on line, ie: Carol Marine, Abbey Ryan, Duane Keiser.

From: don — Oct 29, 2010

Not sure I agree with the 10-year rule, but Joseph’s comments are right on with painting exactly what you want to do….and yes, the rules for online retailing and art exposure are being rewritten every day. It pays to pay attention to what’s happening in the digital world and see the work of others like Duane Keiser. Solid work, solid following all because of the computer.

From: Blue — Oct 29, 2010

What are “university trained steady sales “? I am not familiar with that concept, at least here in NA.

From: JMJahn — Nov 05, 2010

“Self taught or university trained steady,(comma) sales are earned through persistence” Just forgot the comma, Blue

From: JMJahn — Nov 05, 2010

“Self taught or university trained(COMMA), steady sales are earned through persistence” Messed it up again, that’s why I paint instead of write …….

From: JMJahn — Nov 05, 2010

Duane Keiser, is an exceptional artist and would not have any problem having a gallery represent him. Look at his site, these works are not the product of 2 weeks at night school. I would say he has put in the suggested 10 years of apprenticeship. And his approach to online-sales is top notch (An IPhone Ap , hahahaha) . Yes *he* can sell on-line, that’s the path he chose and he’s pouring everything into it. He did not casually place a couple of paintings up, it’s a well done strategy.

  Lofty ideals don’t pay the bills by Mary Bullock, Memphis, TN, USA  

“Attic Secrets”
oil painting, 36 x 24 inches
by Mary Bullock

I must beg to differ with your conclusions about online selling. I know of quite a few top professional artists who not only are represented in galleries but also sell online on eBay. They usually offer smaller paintings online and reserve the larger ones for the galleries. In these tough economic times, galleries are having a hard time too, so it doesn’t hurt to explore other avenues. After all, having lofty ideals is fine, but we still have bills to pay.     There is 1 comment for Lofty ideals don’t pay the bills by Mary Bullock
From: Podi Lawrence — Oct 31, 2010

Perhaps they are selling on e-bay because they have already made their name!

  Daily painting phenomenon by Liz Wiltzen, Banff, AB, Canada  

“Icefall – Cordillera Blanca”
oil painting
by Liz Wiltzen

About a year ago I jumped on to the “daily painting, selling for peanuts from a blog” band wagon. To date it is one of the best things I have done in my 20 plus year career as an artist for several reasons. To name a few: — It has given me an opportunity to put my process, both technical and spiritual, into words regularly, which has deeply broadened my understanding of it. — A commitment to paint a large amount of small paintings in a short period of time has rapidly propelled my growth as a painter, and these pieces are generally smaller than a gallery prefers to sell. — I have sold enough of these to help balance the inconsistency of income that seems inevitable when selling through galleries. — I have tapped into an ever expanding network of people on a similar path, and having these fine folks to share the journey with has done much to brighten the solitary experience of a painter’s workday. — I have gained a significant amount of exposure for my work, with a reach that is much farther than my galleries have managed as of yet. — It provides the opportunity to share things of value I am learning with other artists. — It offers those who cannot afford my current price structure a chance to own a small original, and I really like that. As for your comment, “online artists who opt for the gallery system may need to desist from private selling online,” I would suggest the opposite. I believe wise galleries will encourage their artists to have a strong online presence, as well as the galleries themselves. If only very small pieces are offered at “fire sale prices” privately, they have the power to act as a tiny first taste to intrigue and captivate patrons to seek out a larger work from that artist’s galleries down the road. (My strategy is that the fire sale price only lasts for one week.) The Internet has become such an integral part of our lives that not using it as a part of your business plan makes no sense. Galleries are representing 30 or more artists at a time, and to do a good job for each of them, each one can only get the percentage of their time the other’s aren’t. No one is going to work harder at promoting my work than me. I also believe the days of keeping the client and artist segregated are gone; it simply can’t be done anymore. Let’s get them together and start building a relationship. The more a patron knows about an artist, the more likely that they will want to own a piece of their work. Trust is essential. It’s time for artists and their galleries to work together using the Internet as another tool to build connection, exposure and sales. All parties are served by this. There are 6 comments for Daily painting phenomenon by Liz Wiltzen
From: Carole Mayne — Oct 28, 2010

This week’s ‘Peanuts’ column couldn’t have come with more synchronicity! I’ve recently committed to painting daily after agonizing over the decision for three years. I am starting my own daily painters group web gallery, and it should be up and filled in the beginning of January. Liz, your positive points and your work are wonderful and I wish you all success. My work is in a prestigious gallery in my town that has been in business since 1965 – BUT – they haven’t been able to pay me for the half dozen paintings they’ve sold (+$1000’s) in the last year in a ‘desperate attempt’ to keep the doors open! Furthermore, they want me to wait patiently till after summer of 2011 for payment! So, yes, I’m ready to put all my intention and skills into small paintings and just see what happens. I’m excited about building momentum and introspecting from this effort and to offer my work in a new venue. Thank you and all the support from other contributors.

From: Anonymous — Oct 28, 2010

Thanks Carole, and I wish you the best with your new venture!

From: Rose — Oct 29, 2010

Your painting is taking my breath away….

From: Sharon Lynn Williams — Oct 30, 2010

Great comments Liz, and I couldn’t agree more. The push to paint equals progress, even if it doesn’t result in increased sales. I have a blog and post my prices there, and they are exactly the same prices that my paintings in the galleries are. I am a plein air painter, so perhaps that is a special circumstance, as all of my plein air work is small. But I am getting tired of seeing Carol Marine and Karin Jurick rip-offs.

From: JMJahn — Nov 05, 2010

If your personality allows you the energy and desire to use this new opportunity of on-line sales and connection that’s great. I enjoy Painters Keys, for instance, but would never in my wildest dreams want to put in the time and effort that Robert seems to thrive doing. I would still say that the majority of artists are best served by doing their art and leaving the Net for recreation and research. However if you enjoy promotion and sales + painting who’s to say no. I enjoy placing my work on-line for comments (at deviantART) and being a member of numerous ART blogs/mags but I’d rather paint than deal with the public, that’s just my *personalty*. (Good comments Liz)

From: sandra galda — Nov 05, 2010

I agree with you Liz! Great writing!

  Blogging aids creative process by Shirley Fachilla, TN, USA  

“What’s in a Name”
oil painting
by Shirley Fachilla

Like Randall, I’ve recently put up a blog. Unlike Randall, I haven’t offered anything for sale for couple of reasons. One, there are some remarkably good artists who offer paintings daily online. I can’t compete with their quality or their quantity. Two, even these excellent painters make way too little with their online sales. My aim with my blog was different. Sure, I want to increase my visibility and my “fan” base. Certainly I would like a gallery to discover me online; or at least, I would like to use my online presence as an introduction to gallery owners. These are aims that Randall’s blog might fulfill for him as well. But I also wanted something that has little to do with selling or marketing. I wanted to write about art just not my own! So when I blog, I write about the process of painting or about other artists, most long-dead but some alive and kicking. I use one of my paintings to illustrate the point of the main blog topic. So far, I’ve been limited, not by topic but by not having a work which would operate as a good demonstration. This writing which started as something of a chore has become an actual help to my own creative process. By the writing, I have started to see avenues unexplored, nuances overlooked and possibilities for my process I had neglected. There is 1 comment for Blogging aids creative process by Shirley Fachilla
From: JMJahn — Nov 05, 2010

On-line presence is a must, in my opinion. I like your attitude about the goals of on-line use. I always enjoy viewing and reading the thoughts of other artists and find those that just wish to sell their art and not present a dialog the least interesting. Keep on Truch’un .

  Self promotion essential by Mike Drake, Augusta, GA, USA  

“Yellow Sunset”
acrylic painting
by Mike Drake

I started painting a year ago this month, joined a local art guild, put my art in show and sells, and on Facebook. I have done about 80 paintings, sold 13, given that many away as gifts, donated to local causes etc. most have been 16×20 inches or larger. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t doing the same. My work varies between landscapes and abstracts, some from photographs, but now a lot are coming out of my head. You have to get out there and let the universe know you exist, and make it almost affordable, framed or not.   There is 1 comment for Self promotion essential by Mike Drake
From: Patrick — Oct 28, 2010

Mike, you asked: “I don’t understand why everyone isn’t doing the same”? Trust me, we really do understand. Now go have fun and knock yourself out.

  Immediatism by Shirley Peters, Putney, NSW, Australia  

“Carnival in Notre Dame”
oil painting
by Shirley Peters

I think you are doing the “daily painting” industry a disservice. By referring to the paintings as a line of tarts created by bakers, you are belittling a genuine new art movement. Don’t laugh… I’m not meaning a movement like one of the well studied “-isms” of the twentieth century, a group united with philosophy, but a new, fast art that has evolved for an uploading, online broadband-based community: I call it “immediatism.” “Because I can” is a good reason to paint and display a new work every day. There is joy in doing a tiny work, fast, easy and fun, and then being able to photograph it, crop it, and then show it online for all the world to find. It gives immediate satisfaction, and with the blog, immediate feedback. Immediate feedback was not possible before the Internet. Back then, artists had to show in a gallery, or invite friends over for a viewing. One’s audience was limited to local collectors and admirers. So last century! From the lofty angle of a gallery represented artist (a rare beast in my world), it’s easy to be disparaging, as there are so many people doing these daily paintings, seemingly cheapening the product. But, more and more people are painting! How wonderful. And now they have the satisfaction of uploading their work with the hope that they will be discovered, and sold. Over time, those who are only doing it for the income will be disappointed and will stop. Those who are passionate will continue, and maybe move on to larger, more timely works. No one will make lots of money… not even those few who are selling. I liken the ‘daily painters’ to the salon artists of the 1920s. Many painters, some good, some not, covering the virtual walls with their latest work. All vying for attention. I think ‘immediatism’ is a product of our new, fast paced, Internet lives. It’s here for good. It can’t be stopped. Why not embrace it. Who knows where it will lead? Maybe it is the beginning of the end of the traditional gallery? Maybe we’ll find the next Picasso or van Gogh uploading daily paintings to kick start her career! There are 2 comments for Immediatism by Shirley Peters
From: Peter Brown — Oct 30, 2010

Your painting reminds me of some of my own. I too painted anachronisms. Yours has a bit of Reginald Marsh. Anyway, I liked the image. All the best, eh? PWB

From: Mike Drake — Nov 09, 2010

I do the same thing everyday just about with my paintings, most are not even dry when i take the pic. I love the instantism. Keep on doin it, and share what you been gifted with to the world!

  The sweet truth of connectivity by Kelley MacDonald, Tiverton, RI, USA  

“Sunny Flowers”
acrylic painting, 9 x 12 inches
by Kelley MacDonald

This was a timely piece on the Daily Painters Movement online. First of all, yes, you can have ‘your cake and eat it, too.’ Plenty of smart artists are doing that, but it really depends on how you approach your gallery. If you limit your size to small, say, under 10×10 inches for online, and never give small things to the gallery; your blog will work to drive customers to your gallery. After they’ve bought a little one or two, they’re going to be curious about your bigger work. Ask Carol Marine, Karin Jurik, Jeff Hayes, etc. etc. I feel for Randall; sometimes it can feel lonely at first when you blog. So I went to his blog, and though he had interesting pieces – there were no comments to speak of. Now, if you are the best baker in the world, and decide to put a glass case in your living room and fill it every day with delicious goodies, you are still going to find that no one visits, no one buys. In the blogosphere, you have to get people to your blog. He should take some time each week and visit other blogs. Make comments. That alone will get the curiosity factor going. He should install Feedjit live traffic feed (it’s free) so he can see when someone visits, and generally where they’re from, if they come from Google Search, or another blog. Lastly, he should add artists’ blog links to his blog. They also attract Google searches, but if he drops an email to artists he likes and asks if they’ll ‘exchange links’ most people will, and believe it or not, that will drive people to his blog. He might want to listen to the Artists Helping Artists Blogtalk Radio with Leslie Saeta and Dreama Tolle Perry on Thursdays live, or just go to that blog and click on previous week’s shows to listen at leisure.   Plan B — diversify by Phil Chadwick, Southampton, ON, Canada  

“Dragonflies in love”
original painting
by Phil Chadwick

The cost of living with a family these days is considerable so unless you are already famous and have reached the pinnacle scaled by very few artists, the only way to survive is to have a “Plan B” backup career. I have been fortunate in that there is weather every day and to quasi-quote one of the thousands of meteorologist jokes, you don’t even have to be right. In addition, meteorology is also an art form allowing my passion for creativity to be satisfied in my work and not just with a brush. However, I try to make my forecasts “impressionistic realism” and as honest as my art. The solution is to diversify. Stay forever true to your passion but listen to your bride. Food and shelter is something you need from a reliable source. I will transform to Phil the Artist soon and although putting some of my passion on hold for 35 years has been Plan B, it was something that had to be done. Working for peanuts in this economy is just nuts.   A tough year by Louise Francke, NC, USA  

“Hip Cats”
original painting
by Louise Francke

This has been a tough year of decisions! My gallery, since 1978, has gone belly up owing some artists big time bucks! Orange County Tour is on the horizon in first 2 weekends of November. I have had to make a major decision: do I cling to the gallery prices or reduce them in this economic quagmire through which we are still wading. Since I would very much like to shove the art out the door to new homes, I decided to take off 50% from what the gallery prices were, across the board. Making the small art works a real bargain even when framed in inexpensive frames. If people ask, I’m prepared to tell them that this is what my take is at the gallery. There are a couple of small gallery owners whom I’ve invited to investigate what I have to offer. Guess I’ll have to keep the older works at these prices or maybe go half way with them to accommodate their percentages but new works will be back in the ballpark or perhaps a little less. In order to facilitate the casual looker, I’ve organized my ltd ed hand tinted hand pulled monotypes/etchings in bins according to subject. Hopefully, this will allow them to really contemplate a purchase. C’est la vie!   Focus on a strategy by Beth Deuble, San Diego, CA, USA  

“Six in orange”
by Beth Deuble

Yes, passion persists. I think many artists are running up against the commoditization of art. This is partly due to the Internet where a vast range of artistic work is available and it is increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. Our work becomes a small bobbin floating in an ocean. I think throwing it ‘out there’ and hoping it will catch a fish is an ineffective strategy for marketing one’s work. All fishermen know they must use the right bait and the right lure and select the right spot. Although I am not represented by an agent or gallery as yet, I know it is necessary to have a more focused approach versus a shotgun approach. Keep doing what you are doing. Keep creating. Focus on your work. Then, focus on a strategy and segment of society where you think your work might be well received.   Be in touch with reality by Ortrud K. Tyler, Oak Island, NC, USA  

“Story Robes”
original painting
by Ortrud K. Tyler

Why is it so hard to understand that artists, in this case let’s stay with painters, want to make a reasonable living with their art? Cogburn’s pieces are really quite nice. I have seen a lot worse for a lot more money. That said, I get the feeling reading the many responses to your letters, that a lot of artists are not quite in touch with the reality. On the reality of life in these times, things are very difficult for many people and as much as we as artists want to think you can’t live without our products, yes you can, especially if you also need shelter, food, transportation etc. I read through your letters about reproductions/giclees etc. again and yes, when you can’t afford to pay hundreds or thousands for an original, a good repro can fill that spot at least for a while. I find that when people can afford it and like art, they find a way to replace repros with originals many times. Also small inexpensive pieces fill that niche. There are 2 comments for Be in touch with reality by Ortrud K. Tyler
From: Sheila Minifie — Oct 29, 2010

I’m very inspired by your work ‘Story Robes’. Thank you.

From: Georgia Mason — Oct 29, 2010

I agree.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Peanuts online

From: Katherine Tyrrell — Oct 26, 2010

Just promoting your art on your blog without doing anything else is a bit like displaying your art in a gallery located in the back of beyond. There are now billions of websites on the internet! To get people to visit your blog YOU have to generate the traffic. That’s why you pay a gallery owner commission to sell your paintings in his gallery – because his job is to find the the traffic – and buyers – and get it in front of your painting and thinking about whether it might be something they want to own. If you sell online you have to be BOTH gallery owner and artist. You can generate internet traffic in any number of ways but perhaps the best is to get out there and start taking an interest in other people’s art and their paintings. You don’t even have to say visit me. If you make an interesting enough comment, they will click the link to find out who this person is – and what their art looks like. There’s other techie SEO stuff as well – but recognising you are part of a wider artistic community is a jolly good place to start.

From: Michael Drake — Oct 26, 2010

Robert, I read the piece about Randall Cogburn, and don’t understand. I started painting a year ago this month, and joined a local art guild. We have had shows from sidewalk sales to art gallerys around town, and I also show my art on facebook. I have sold 13 so far, have given that many away as gifts, and have painted live in local charity events that were auctioned off for the cause. I work in acrylics and generally 16×20 or larger. 150.00 has been my top sale so far. I think thats a good start for my first year. The other artist with schooling and many years of experience ( that aren’t selling much) tell me “don’t get use to it” it will pass etc. Loving the ride, Michael Drake.

From: Janet Summers — Oct 26, 2010

The paintings of Randall Cogburn are really nice, I agree they should be framed exquisitly and I also like the pricing technique suggested. The art maket is experiencing the same crisis that everyone ele is best of luck to anyone trying to sell, however I am definitely against creating for a market even in the best of economical times. My creativity has free rein, passion, exploring, and painting what I love is the core of my artist self and has no price tag…it is priceless!

From: Darla — Oct 26, 2010

While times are tough, now is the ideal time to promote the idea that anyone can have a beautiful original painting. People get tired of scrimping and scraping all the time. For the same price that you would spend to have flowers sent to your mom on her birthday, you could send her a small painting that she can keep for years, that will bring her pleasure whenever she looks at it. I agree that a nice frame will help — anything that you can do to make it more ready to hang is good. For small gift paintings, you might even have a gift box or mailing box with each sale.

From: Rene — Oct 26, 2010

You have to sell yourself in other venues. Entering art competitions, gallery representation, joining painting groups, taking art classes, etc. Establish your credentials as an artist and you will reap the rewards.

From: Jackie Knott — Oct 26, 2010

Size is killing Randall. A painting should draw a person to it from across a room and that demands size. Plein air oil sketches and still life studies are fine for 6 x 9 but consider, where does one hang such a small painting? I’ve kept some 8 x 10 graphite drawings but I can’t paint anything less than 16 x 20 these days and prefer even larger. If a scene inspires enough to paint it how can you reduce grandeur into a 5 x 8? Equally, upsizing often demands more detail and in a peculiar ratio association, sometimes a higher pricetag. Any painting is enhanced with a wider, more elaborate frame.

From: Deborah Lacativa — Oct 26, 2010

Thanks for several useful pointers on making the work more accessible to buyers regardless of price points. I’m going in to my website and putting the price stickers back on just like they so many good used cars, ready to drive off and enjoy! Why frustrate the buying public? I have to keep in mind that people who are still buying art these days are still buying art for the same unknowable reasons as they were before the economy tanked. As a textile artist I’ve developed an interesting sideline – my own brand of “peanuts” that has helped me almost make ends meet on a regular basis. I dye cloth for my own work and make much more than I can ever use so I’ve been selling more raw materials – hand dyed vintage cloth – than I have been selling my own work. Not many artists could make a side living concocting their own line of paints but since I was already doing it for my own work it’s been a natural transition and has been helping to pay the bills. Because of the “peanut making” I have to hang two hats on my studio door…one for the Artist and one for the Shopkeeper and sometimes they don’t get along. Shopkeeping is time consuming and the Artist is feeling a bit dissed and drifting now somewhere between your “amateur epiphany” and “jaded journeyman”. Smaller pieces have been selling through a variety of online venues, but the Big Things..the pieces I created with gallery representation in mind, are right now languishing in a pile in the center of my studio, rolled up and ready for storage once I can convince my cat that they are not a sofa. In a way I’m kind of grateful to be putting the notion of gallery representation on the back burner. So many galleries are in trouble or in the sad process of folding, victims of the same economy we all live in, it doesn’t seem a viable option anymore especially for my niche medium, textiles. I’m also grateful to have the peanuts sideline. It’s like the Day Job that so many artists must keep (if they are so fortunate to have one!) only I sort through the pieces of cloth I have for sale and get to keep the best, most inspirational pieces for the art I continue to make for my own satisfaction – no price points in mind.

From: Marvin Humphrey — Oct 26, 2010

Life is a balancing act. Our physical selves need maintenance; popping out the little “tarts”, or “pot-boilers” can help pay the rent and put food on the able. As human beings, our spiritual selves need nourishing. In expressing our lofty inspirations with no thought of commerce, we artists enrich our own, and others’ existence.

From: Marvin Humphrey — Oct 26, 2010

Whoops! I left the “t” out of “table”!

From: Charles Hanbury — Oct 26, 2010

‘Damn’ the downstream distress, damn the prices on the paintings and damn those BlogSpot’s which to me are like mud spatters on the faces of the contenders. Hold them all back– go clean yourself off and close the door to your sanctuary and paint. See yourself for who you are; an individual talent of an artist who seeks to better himself by working it out rather than running with the bulls. Albeit times can be tough getting into galleries but that’s generally where the fun can be had. You’ve created anticipation, looking forward to seeing your work in future spot lights!

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Oct 26, 2010

Randall, you need to do a google search of your name, and the name of your blog. If they don’t turn up on the first page, you need to learn SEO, Search Engine Optimization, where you are found if someone searches for a painting that might fit their description. Get a counter, (stat counter is one) to see how many hits you get. Take some (groan) art marketing seminars. Good luck, your work is nice, it ought to sell once people find it.

From: Suzette Fram — Oct 26, 2010

Times are hard, sales are even harder, no one is buying these days. It is discouraging, especially when you work very hard doing a show, at the end of which you feel exhausted and disappointed by the lack of sales. I paint because I love it, so I don’t give up. Thoughts of giving up are quickly banished away by giving myself of day or two of nurturing and, dare I say it, emotional eating. Chocolate works nicely. The dark thoughts pass quickly enough and then it’s back to pursuing my passion with dedication and hope of producing better and better work, which one day, sooner or later, will result in the validation that I seek through shows and sales.

From: Randall — Oct 26, 2010

Thanks so much for putting me out there. Any help is appreciated. I changed the buy now deal to just text with a link. I will be doing the other things you’ve mentioned. I’ve questioned whether I wanted to be a “peanut” painter also. It’s mainly the practice that it gives me and will eventually go bigger. In fact I plan on starting this month and will be interesting. Funds is what keeps me from whipping out bigger paintings, less practice that way. I also like the plein air painting style and 6×8 seems hard enough. I guess it’s from using watercolors a lot and wanting that spontaneous reaction. Freer for sure. I do enjoy the studio work also but does take more time. Anyway, just thought I’d let you know I just sold a painting while I was typing this message, it was a Buy Now button, lol !

From: Van — Oct 26, 2010

It’s been drummed into us that any given piece has to always sell for the same price, that you can’t offer it for $250 through a gallery if they think you’ll sell it for $200 yourself, and we’ve followed that scrupulously in my wife’s work. But cyberspace shouldn’t be seen as a conflict with the meatspace galleries. In fact, whenever Larkin’s work is represented by a gallery, the website continues to show the work, with its price, but it clearly says that the work is represented by the gallery, and the e-mail link for the piece goes, not to Larkin, but to the gallery that has the piece. Despite the fact that most of the work on the website is not in a gallery, and note that we haven’t kept stats on this point, my recollection seems to be that of the work that has sold to website visitors, more of it has been sold by galleries than direct. So the galleries that have carried her work have had sales that were the result of her website rather than from visitors that have walked through the door of the gallery. For example, all of Larkin’s new series, Small Treasures, is actually at Raven Rocks Galleries right now, click on any of the thumbnails and you can easily see the way we show that:×8.html Actually, I’m really looking forward to the end of the month when most of these will come home, and I can start promoting them directly! Not that I begrudge Windy and Mary their 40%, but if I go bang the drum and sell a few, Larkin probably won’t pay me anything, and she needs the money. I’d never heard the small pieces referred to as peanuts before. I like it.

From: T Girard — Oct 26, 2010

I find these observations very true as we combine the tangible and intangible worlds more and more each day. I have opted for a co-op gallery setting. Frowned by many in the art world, but very workable for me. The owner is an artist and is very enthusiastic about the work and is in a great location. She also teaches there and sells a few art supplies. Recently, some other artists criticized me for being in what they call a “vanity” gallery” I hate that term….I think that in this economy, trying alternatives is a great way to keep it going. What are your thoughts????

From: Paul deMarrais — Oct 26, 2010

Artists are certainly grabbing at this inexpensive straw but is it really helping with the ‘big problem’? The big problem for artists is the perception of value. Much of the marketing efforts of galleries have to do with creating a context where paintings have value to the buyer. Galleries are convincing the buyer that the painting for sale is worth the price and that is perfectly all right for them to purchase. The gallery is standing behind the painting and the artist giving it their seal of approval. They are giving confidence to the buyer through various means and creating a bit of mystique in the process. A painting has to be ‘special’ in order to form an emotional link with the viewer and galleries do all they can to put a painting in a favorable light where it can find a home. The internet has little to offer as an attractive context. It’s a very boring store. The paintings have to be extraordinary to stand out….at any price! Highlighting the cheap price also creates the wrong impression and lends the deadly air of desperation to the process. It becomes like holding a cardboard sign next to the interstate, ‘please buy my paintings, need food’. It might be the reality but it’s not the right kind of marketing! In the end an artist needs to strive to make a great painting, not a cheap painting! Keeping that goal in mind will help attract buyers.

From: Judith Veinot — Oct 26, 2010

As a quilter turned fibre artist, lately I am always open to purchasing small affordable works of art that, with the artist’s permission, I can reproduce generally in fibres. I belong to an art centre and am constantly exposed to other media, which is inspiring. For economical reasons, the odd piece I purchase must speak to me, have an interesting element which make them out of the ordinary, such as the cottage door watercolour by June Gerum, which is not exactly reproduced due to the very nature of fabric, threads, and netting. I see a lot of “generic” landscapes, lovely to look at, but there seem to be so many pieces by so many artists that unless there is something different about them, they don’t excite a buyer, especially online as one cannot see brushstrokes or true colours. Many appear flat, with no focal point and after viewing hundreds, they look basically the same. There is something to be said for some formal art training, and I had the benefit of a mentor for a few years, only to learn that I have no trouble selling any of my work if I wished, often before completion, and that nothing replaces a natural ability to translate what one sees into a piece. Because oils, acrylics and watercolour art is rather flat, the look of dimension and texture is difficult to achieve, so a particular style or unique abilities are required to make one’s work more in demand and saleable.

From: Martha Pettigrew — Oct 26, 2010

I’m very frustrated. I am a former illustrator for a museum, and have been a successful sculptor, earning my living at my trade for the past 20 years. Several years ago, returning to my two dimensional disciplines, I began dividing my efforts between painting and sculpting, with no intention of abandoning my clients who relished my sculpture. My frustration comes from the fact that my galleries will not accept me as a painter by showing my paintings. Judging by private sales I have achieved, largely by those owning my sculptures, my paintings are quite saleable. How can I convince my galleries to also accept me as a painter, and offer both of my disciplines to their clients?

From: Jill Charuk — Oct 26, 2010

I just started doing little pieces and post them once a week on my website. They.. 1. Delight my friends and followers to see a little piece each week. 2. Drive people to my website which is good for me and my galleries. 3. Give me more contact with people viewing my art…it can get lonely. 4.Give me a chance to try out new colour combinations, subject matter and composition. They are a source of fun for me and create a product that I can use for charities, gift giving and “pin” money. Art making can get so serious.

From: Oliver — Oct 26, 2010

A couple of weeks ago the letter was about the lady who had a gallery show moderately frequently but a low prices and the owner called it “throw away” or something. The real questions to me I guess are what do you need to to practice your craft and also what do you do with the work once complete? I will note that work never or seldom seen by others isn’t doing much or sharing much. Within these contexts a few questions arise: How do you pay for your work if you sell nothing How much marketing or advertising can you afford (do) framing costs even at wholesale advertising and marketing costs can you afford websites galleries (“non vanity”) they want 40-60% of retail they want inventory and sometimes they damage or “lose” work galleries (“vanity”) fees and dues galleries (“co-operative) time and dues street fairs (entry fees, time and are can be physically demanding) paid by the artist agents – sometimes they don’t do much for you but like your money calls for entry (fees often subsidies for the underlying operation/gallery ??? charitable org maybe and sometimes they use to get other paid business) paid from sales agents (you have to give them materials and I’ve had them not returned when it wasn’t working) contacts with decorators and interior designers – you gotta find them and wow them so they will sell their clients and you gotta support them – really specialized agents restaurants or other alternative spaces often will charge little for the work being hung – they are getting free decoration but visitors may not be in the art buying mood and you have all the inventory and setup costs Can you afford to donate to hospitals, nursing homes etc? Calling it advertising – which can create leads but sometimes is really just a gift. The “collecting” public considers non vanity non co-operative galleries the place where “real art is” and there are pluses and minuses to this type of thought. However, they are among the hardest to get into. That said moving from one phase to another can work from them – work out a transition with the right gallery, “having sold 20k of work in two seasons on the street faire circuit, this artist is ready to move into or has been “discovered by” ABC supports new/mid career artists like. Nothing will get the attention of a gallery more than sales. Street fairs generally require pictures of “professional looking booths in addition to good art, invest time and effort into developing a good application packet and researching the fairs you can reasonably do. Budget plenty of travel time to and from etc as well. Remember too you have to get the booth set up and torn down and packed into some sort of vehicle. This can be demanding physically or expensive. Also you have to monitor the booth for sometimes long hours in various weather and be able to tolerate eating and the expense of fair food, or be very good at cold ration camping food for at least a few meals. Honest answers to the above, will help guide you what you can and should be doing with respect to marketing. On the framing note – you’ll do best if pieces are standard size or already framed especially at street fairs. If you do your own framing you should seriously consider doing it your self for budget reasons. If you have enough sales you can hire a framer or sub it out to a wholesale framer who will require volume commitments as part of giving you the best prices. Know your self especially when approaching various people – do you fit or would you be unique? Street fairs generally like new things and can be tough to get into if you are too much like the other stuff at the fair. It’s worse at galleries – you have to be like them but not……. If you are a painter, I wouldn’t approach galleries that devote them self to strictly old master painters, print making, ceramics, photography etc. Then get a feel for style and subject matter. Don’t approach street fairs if you are controversial with subject matter etc. Some shows have a flat rule we won’t show a naked breast – don’t care if it is authenticated museum deaccessions sold for a $1. There may be the same types of issues for religious art, nudity and politics in many corporate spaces. (For me of course this creates a conundrum – my work flow is photographic but everyone calls me a painter – a complement to me since it try to be a modern Pictorialist and pick up where Stiglitz understandably left on and have a “nice chat” with painters about art. That said many paining people say – interesting wish you had done that with paints and brushes and photo places say ” we show photography here” – told him my work flow – camera, computer, printer which is used by millions and asked and he repeated we show photography here – this a pretty major photographic gallery owner. Remember it is sometimes the chicken and the egg and can be very frustrating. Sales help sales, gallery access helps gallery access, fair access helps fair access etc. No matter what you do, keep good records of what you’ve done so you can a) figure out what works and why and b) be able to tell others including the Taxing authorities.

From: Therese Bur — Oct 26, 2010

Even Beethoven wrote “bread and butter work”. There is no shame in appealing to the masses to put food on your table. It can fund the deeper and more meaningful artwork, We worry about prostituting ourselves needlessly. But you have conveyed a good point regarding galleries: Don’t do that which would undermine your sales from a gallery. You might need to create an entirely different genre and review your contract, so as not to step of any galleries right to represent.

From: Carol — Oct 26, 2010

You hit the target with good advice on selling. You consistently cover a lot of territory in terms of being an artist and the search for creativity, process, product, commercialism, self-expression, etc. Many endeavors in our lives are not financially profitable.

From: sarasuperid — Oct 26, 2010

I think that you might consider whether the subject matter that you paint is something people are going to be attracted to. Close up pictures of girls in swimsuits with obscured faces is an unusual choice. I think that you would need to target your advertising towards your perceived audience.

From: mars — Oct 26, 2010

I know– we are suppose 2 have a –motive– 2 paint. I.’m not a professional–but paint –CAUSE– that’s what I do–& like it!! As for selling– try & paint what sells– I know we are not suppose 2 do that– but an artist has the right to do whatever!!! Why not put a price o n —that will sell the painting– instead of pileing them up in ur closet. I know there will be a rash of harsh opinions on all this– so gO AHEAD!!!!!!!

From: anonymous — Oct 26, 2010

I’d like to see what mars has to offer earth :-)

From: Sandy Sandy — Oct 27, 2010

I agree with sarasuperid’s comments and think the subject matter here is VERY important to consider. People often say to me, ” I don’t know art, but I know what I like”, which translates to; ” I don’t know art, but I like what I know”. I believe that there really has to be more of a personal connection in order for someone to have an emotional response and want to own the piece. To me, the parochial images here look like painting exercises done from snapshots, which is fine for practice but will attract a very limited audience. Not all paintings need to be sold. Many of mine (100’s of them) were merely educational stepping stones. I believe good art is not so much about how it looks as it is about how it makes you feel. What is the center of interest, point of view, message or feeling you are trying to convey?

From: Marc in N.B. — Oct 27, 2010

I’m not an artist and have difficulties signing my own name at times but I like to see what’s going on and reading Painters Keys and following the threads give me a window into the wonderful world of artists. And so with this said, I wonder – This artist inhabitants a warm area and does enjoy the female body with its shapes and curves, who doesn’t? He see’s them readily but the viewer might see him as a Peeping Tom rather than an up coming Monet. My two cents worth – I would say venture out there and find a model who is willing to work with you – and pose them visually and aesthetically (props and such). Bring the viewer along for the experience, in short – don’t be afraid to go after the real thing.

From: Deborah Elmquist — Oct 27, 2010
From: Theresa Bayer — Oct 28, 2010

For Martha Pettigrew: The same people who love your sculptures will not necessarily love your paintings. I’ve noticed the same thing myself in switching from sculpture to painting. Could be the case of a different clientele for each.

From: Gaye Adams — Oct 28, 2010

I started daily painting over a year ago, and I feel it has revitalized and revolutionized my development as a painter. At the time, I felt rather “stuck” in my progress after painting many years primarily from photo reference, as so many of us do. I consider this practice both resourceful and yes, perhaps even noble. It’s very honest art work, for me at least. Far from being the “line of tarts”, the point of the exercise IS the exercise. As for the marketing of daily paintings, they seem to me to be the perfect “lost leader”. Blogging and selling on eBay are a sign of the times, and offering a small piece of art that even entry level collectors can afford, not only provides some nice cash flow for the painter, but puts original art in the hands of the people. And there is some really good art out there in the ranks of the daily painting movement. And people often say “Ohhhh,nice one! I gotta have that little jewel”. Galleries have so far understood that it is my right to market myself, most especially in an economy that has many galleries flailing. In addition, I haven’t typically wanted to sell these small pieces through galleries as there isn’t enough money in it for them or me. I think it’s a win-win. As well as offering daily paintings for sale, I enjoy the opportunity of offering to followers some information about what I am learning that may provide some insight or value to them. What I’m trying to say is that the producing and blogging of these paintings is about sharing and personal growth. If there is a market for the paintings, bonus. If not, that’s ok too. I’ll be doing them for a long time to come.

From: Leslie K — Oct 28, 2010

I have recently been struggling with the question of how much I want to “work” at selling my art. I’m fortunate that I do not “need” to sell it for a living. But the question plagues me, “Why keep painting if the paintings go nowhere”. To figure these things out and see exactly what the possibilities are I have recently taken some marketing workshops. One from Alyson Stanfield was excellent and motivating, but still left me with questions of a more personal nature. For now my conclusion is that I’m not motivated to go “full bore” but do want to do something to “get the work out there”. I agree with Alyson when she said that “The work is not complete until it is viewed”. I plan on taking as full advantage of the Internet as I can, because this does not require as much time away from the studio as festivals or schlepping to galleries. I have a small local gallery that I deal with and because I’m in our local art guild there are venues available to show my art. I also donate my art frequently. In the end I am satisfied to SHARE my art this way. If some one loves something enough to buy it at what ever price, that is all the more gratifying.

From: Michael Drake — Oct 29, 2010

Robert, Thanks for putting my comments in here. I think we got a good cross section of painters comments for Randalls ideas to consider. For me, making the work affordable to working class people gets my name and artwork out there, and hanging on someone elses wall to enjoy.

From: Nancy Paris Pruden — Oct 29, 2010

I have been using the blog format and sending out a photo of one small painting a week for over a year now. The art image is linked to e-bay and most are for sell for $99. This has worked very well because I send them only to people I know (700) and the painting is just a jumping off point for talking about art and the making of art. Keeps readers interested enough to click on the painting. You can pull them up on and click on Blog. Thanks, Nancy Paris Pruden

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Oct 29, 2010

I keep my functional work very reasonable and have even undercut the average price of say ceramic mugs, bowls, platters etc just to move product out and make room. Art should not be restricted to those with disposable incomes, it ought to be available to everyone regardless. That ideal is also why I do accept trades at times :)

From: Nancy Bell Scott — Oct 31, 2010

Brian, I’m with you. Once active in the gallery scene in my region, I now sell mostly out of my studio because people walk or drive by my storefront windows — which are full of art works that change often — and become interested. I have a standard set of prices that I generally charge, but if someone falls in love with a piece and it’s clear they can’t purchase it because they don’t have an extra few hundred dollars floating around (I don’t either), I offer them a discount, sometimes a steep one. I have no interest in making my work available only to people who are financially very comfortable. I’m interested in making the work available to anyone who loves and is inspired by it.

From: Rick Rotante — Oct 31, 2010

One of the good things about selling your own work, through any medium other than a gallery is you can work with the pricing. I set prices on my work but if I feel a potential customer is interested I work with them and lower the price where I’m comfortable if necessary. Someone above said it correctly. If they really love the work and are not looking for bargains, I still make money. I’ve been on the internet for over ten years now and make sales of my larger works. I’ve also done Street Fairs and sales of smaller work are beginning to pick up. People still do seek affordable “quality” artwork. An added plus is being there on site to sell yourself as well. People like to connect with the artist. I always demonstrate throughout the day and that makes people stop and visit or just look, but I can talk with them if they stop. I also let (some) kids try painting and have sold to the parent who wanted the piece her kid worked on. You never know who or why people buy. I’ve had someone buy for someone else thinking they would love that piece. You have to be accessible to a buyer. As for fees, they aren’t too much of a hassle. It’s when they couple that with commissions that get my goat. I’ve gotten commissions from street fairs to do portraits. What I would love to have is a storefront with studio/living space. I would paint in view of the public. People are fascinated when watching an artist work. I know I am.

From: Mike Drake — Nov 09, 2010

I have bartered my art for a stay in a mtn cabin, a laptop, and other computer related items. Anyway i can get to an admirer. Afterall, for me, thats one of the reasons i paint, to have someone say ” I really like that lil jewel” or “Awesome”.

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