What’s It Worth?

August 17, 2012

What is a painting worth?  Lots of artists ask themselves that question, especially in this economy.  Is the price determined by the size, the cost of the materials, including frame, or the amount of effort required to paint it?  Should a painting cost more if it is bought from a gallery that takes one third of the price before paying the artist?  It seems to me that more often what a painting is worth depends on what someone is willing to pay for it and that can vary widely.

I finally sold a painting this weekend, proving that there are still people out there who think original art needs to be a part of their lives and are willing to pay for it.  It was a commissioned piece, art that requires a certain risk from both buyer and seller.  The buyer agrees to seriously consider buying a painting he or she hasn’t yet seen.  And the painter hopes to capture on canvas a vision in somebody elsle’s head.  Anyway, this time it worked and I am much relieved.

Another example of how the worth of painting may be determined occurred just a few days ago.  A woman contacted me to ask me to donate a painting to a charity with which she was involved.  She told me she liked my work and owned one of my paintings, but hadn’t bought it from me.  That made me curious.  I know that sometimes paintings migrate.  People redecorate, downsize, give them as gifts or to charity auctions or die, leaving someone else to dispose of their belongings.

I keep records of all my paintings, so when she told me the name of the painting she had I looked it up.  It was a small painting I had given to a silent charity auction.  A woman had paid $30 for it.  The woman I was talking to said she had bought it at an estate sale in a nearly town and thought she paid $125 for it and considered it a bargain.  It’s nice to know that even in a down economy something I painted actually increased in value.

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