View Full Version : Do some galleries not want watercolor paintings?

05-01-2013, 04:04 PM
I was chatting with a well known established gallery, they said they aren't interested in paintings on paper. Are watercolor paintings less valuable than an acrylic or oil painting on canvas?

05-01-2013, 04:16 PM
Yes. Shame. Less valuable, desirable, whatever...not everywhere not all the time, but close enough to make it mostly true. I think that this may be why there are so many societies and big shows, sort of a compensating mechanism. A way to keep watercolour on the radar.

05-01-2013, 04:20 PM
Yes, unfortunately watercolor does rank below oil and acrylic in the hierarchy of art sales. Most collectors are interested in oil paintings. There are exceptions though. Some galleries do show watercolors, and if your watercolors are of the quality of Stephen Scott Young, Dean Mitchell, Mary Whyte, or Andrew Wyeth, I can't imagination that galleries wouldn't be interested in showing your work.

Avena Cash
05-01-2013, 04:38 PM
Many galleries show watercolor and drawing media on paper. I would think that handling frames and glass is a factor.

The main reasons I rarely work on paper is that the cost of framing, the time spent on getting the framing right, and then the weight of the framed pieces for handling and storage all make it a lot more difficult to handle. A painting on canvas or board is comparatively lightweight and if framed does not require glass. If I were operating a gallery, it would also be hard to deal with inconsistent and lower-quality framing. Some galleries even take responsibility for framing so that they control consistency of framing. For works on paper, this could be far more expensive and complicated.

05-01-2013, 06:17 PM
in many areas its not the fact its a watercolour but more that it is behind glass. I gallery wrap watercolours as well as traditional behind glass and people do not realise the gallery wrapped ones are watercolour until you say and they still sell well even when they know its a watercolour. You have to learn your market area and what they want because the galleries are a business and will exhibit what they know they can sell


05-01-2013, 09:21 PM
I am lucky enough to live where there are galleries that accept watercolours right along side acrylics and oils.

The hierarchy is definite oil> acrylic> other media. Watercolours are probably about equal with pastels and both are above drawings, but the prejudice is definitely there.

Works on paper are almost always required to be framed behind glass or plexi.

I have thought about trying gallery wrapped paper or clay-board panels as alternative substrates for watercolour partly as a means of reducing my framing costs. I do Asian ink painting and watercolour and ink painting as well and these are traditionally displayed as scrolls or mounted on paper without framing and glass. The requirement for works on paper to be framed with glass is a difficult one to reconcile with this style.

I find the lower status of watercolour to be somewhat ironic, since many artists seam to consider it the most difficult medium to work in and certainly to master.

If one gallery turns you down try another.

05-01-2013, 10:12 PM
Yes. The art district here avoids them because most watercolor paintings, in THEIR words, look...well, like typical watercolor paintings. One gallery owner told me that he sees hundreds of watercolors by dozens of artists who all seem to think "watercolor" means "watery, cloudy, smeary, blurry paint." You know, pools of translucent, prissy stain colors. If you want to see watercolors that break out of this cliche, look at Dean Mitchell's work (http://www.deanmitchellstudio.com/). Or Steve Hanks (whose work is considered top-notch, but be aware that he likes painting glamor models).

05-01-2013, 11:06 PM
Like Ona said, I think the reflections on the glass are a negative to many people. I have used museum glass and it is amazing what a difference it makes...no glare at all - it looks like you could touch the paper. It costs a bit more, but well worth it if you're going to present framed pieces to a gallery for their consideration.


M.L. Schaefer
05-02-2013, 01:30 PM
Matt, thank you so much for posting your link...I couldn't get in via WetCanvas, but found his work by searching for his name. So extremely talented and prolific. Again, thank you!

I'm thinking that it is time for spraying, varnishing, etc. An old horn I'm tooting, varnish does not make oil paintings a mixed medium. Watercolor should not be considered a mixed medium just because it is protected through spraying and varnishing......

:heart: Margarete

05-02-2013, 05:24 PM
Galleries are business to make cash, whatever sells they will hang, they don't care what medium the painting is if it makes a profit

Watercolours are out of fashion in some areas and some countries, as they are regarded as old fashioned



05-02-2013, 05:36 PM
I began experimenting with gallery wrapped watercolours about a year or so ago. I've found a process that works for me and, frankly, I love painting on the taut surface. I varnish my finished pieces and describe them as "Varnished Watercolours" when I submit them for sale or in juried exhibitions. Since they're varnished, they're unfairly considered mixed media, but are accepted in most Water Media shows.

At the little Gallery where I show my work, they sell quickly.

People don't much care for the glare of the glass, the weight of the framing, and the care that must be taken with our traditional watercolours. It's a shame, but a fact in my area.

05-05-2013, 05:38 PM
I've been thinking about a wax finish for watercolors to avoid having to use glass. John Lovett talks about it on his web site here (http://www.johnlovett.com/preservation.htm) and he seems to have good success with it.

Char - I don't know if this is considered rude but can I ask how much you sell your gallery wraps for?