View Full Version : Possible painting sale?

10-29-2005, 04:34 PM
Gosh, I'm all in a tizzy. At the office I have a "mini art gallery". I have printed off little 2x2 thumbnails of a lot of my paintings and taped them to my credenza, and I have gotten some people talking about them. One woman recently said how much she liked them, and that her husband told her maybe she could buy one from me, but I didn't really take it seriously. I have to admit I sort of blew her away because I thought it was a joke.

But then, yesterday, I was helping another woman with a problem. She was admiring the art, and she *also* asked if I sold them. Well maybe this time I was not so thick-headed, so I said "Well I haven't yet, but I'm willing to sell them if I find buyers", so she said there was one she really wanted to BUY! She asked me what the actual size was, etc. and she wants me to bring it to the office so she can look at the original.

Well this is a shockeroo. The picture she likes I've posted below. I'm not even that crazy about it. It was one I did in art class in the spring where we were supposed to be working on values. It's mostly charcoal but I did use some black, white and gray pastel on it as well so I guess I can post it here. :)

And here with my love-affair with color now it seems my first sale might be for a picture in B&W, LOL.

But I'm in a dilemma now, and wonder if folks have any suggestions for me. I'm trying to figure out the best way to transport it safely to the office without damaging it - bearing in mind that I take a bus to work. I though about covering it in glassine paper and then just rolling it up, but wonder if anyone has a better idea.

And also I have no idea about how to PRICE this thing! The original size is 18x24. But this would be my first sale. We didn't talk price at all yesterday. I don't know what she is expecting, and she is a co-worker. I'm in such a quandry.

10-29-2005, 04:50 PM
Debbie, I like that picture a lot- I have sold a couple smaller than that for $50. but they were matted (cheap mat) and framed. I love your B&W- perhaps you could put a few in your office? Marge Heilman said she did that and sold some- you can rotate them every once in awhile. It does not surprise me a bit that people want to buy your work! I have bought art from coworkers 3 times before- it is nice when you know the artist!! Oh, if it is not framed, put glassine on top- do not roll it- put it between foam board or something to keep it nice. Wack everyone in the bus on the head with it LOL

M Douglas
10-29-2005, 08:37 PM
Debbie thats terrific!! Its a lovely piece of art.


Paula Ford
10-29-2005, 10:50 PM

First let me congratulate you!! That is fantastic. Love the painting BTW!

Tape it to foam board, tape a piece of glassine over it and then another piece of foam board. That will be nice and secure.


Karen Margulis
10-29-2005, 11:57 PM
Debbie, That's so exciting!!! Congratulations! Now you need a sales plan!
A similar thing happened to me this past summer. I had never sold anything and I was painting plein air at a lake and someone asked me to paint their houseboat. I had no idea what to charge! Well it only took me about 2 hours so I told them $65. (it was 11 x 14) They were thrilled and ended up spending $300 to get it framed! I was happy with the money because I figure I am still learning and put it into my pastel fund. Now I have had a few more commissions and I am slowly raising my prices but it was a start for me. I recommend spending the money you earn on a nice set of Terry Ludwigs or Great Americans (my personal favorites!)
As far as transport, you have gotten good advice. I do the same as Paula suggested and I tape plain paper to two sides of the foam core making a sandwich.
Good Luck!

10-30-2005, 12:17 AM
Okay, well here is an absolute newbie question. <hangs head in shame>. Just exactly what *is* foamcore? And where do I buy it? If I got to Jerry's and ask for foamcore will they know what I'm talking about? I hope so as I don't even know what I'd be asking them for. :D

K Taylor-Green
10-30-2005, 12:29 AM
Yep, hon, Jerry's will know. You can even buy it at Hobby Lobby, or Michael's Art & Craft.
Foam Core is a firm layer of foam between 2 layers of shiny paper. It comes is different sizes and thicknesses. Framers use it to back works on paper, such as pastel or watercolor. I use it to back a wip on my easel. If you like to work on an easel, you need to have something firm behind your pastel paper so it will sit on your easel.
BTW, congrats on the sale. A good idea is to set down and figure out what you want to charge for your work. I go by size and complexity of subject matter. Type up a price list and print copies. Hand them out when anyone expresses interest.
Easier than quoting a face to face price.

Paula Ford
10-30-2005, 09:17 AM
I found acid free foam board at an online source for dirt cheap. My favorite size is 11"x14" with it matted to 8"x10". Here is the link. http://www.worldviewpic.com/pbacks.htm

Debbie, Michaels usually has it on sale for about 99cents per sheet. It's usually 24x36, or something like that. It also comes in different thicknesses. In mailing paintings that have been sold, I either tape several pieces sandwiched together or use a couple of pieces of the really thick kind.

The foam board that is sold at craft stores DOES contain acid, therefore, don't leave your paintings on it, but for transport it is fine. I usually score it and break it in half and use it as a surface to tape my paper onto.


10-30-2005, 10:38 AM
With the foamcore, just keep in mind that only the outer paper is acid-free. Foam has acid in it, the acid-free paper just creates a barrier.

If foamcore has a slick white paper on it, it probably is regular foamcore, which is not acid-free in paper or foam.


10-30-2005, 12:43 PM
Michaels usually has it on sale for about 99cents per sheet.

:eek: 99 cents!!! Holy cow batman - it's $4 at my michaels!!!! That's it, I'm moving in with Paula!!!! She's close to Jerrys AND has access to 99 cent foamcore!

congrats on the sale! isn't it a wonderful feeling?

Paula Ford
10-30-2005, 03:23 PM
:eek: 99 cents!!! Holy cow batman - it's $4 at my michaels!!!! That's it, I'm moving in with Paula!!!! She's close to Jerrys AND has access to 99 cent foamcore!

congrats on the sale! isn't it a wonderful feeling?


10-30-2005, 03:50 PM
Pricing one's art in the beginning can be a difficult decision to make. There was an article in one of this year's PJ issues on this very subject. Unfortunately, I don't recall which one. All I can say is I use the square inch + multiple factor. That means I take the square inch size of the work, figure out what my years of experience and provenance is worth, and translate that into a number. Then I multiply that number and the square inch number to come up with the price. In the beginning, that meant my multiple factor was about 1/4 of the square inches (it is higher today). With a painting that is size 18 X 24, the square is 432, and a fourth of that is $108. I also round to even numbers so in this case I'd have made it $100. A painting that's 11X14 would have been a fourth of 154 - or I'd have made that $60. I didn't and don't take in to consideration the complexity or time it takes to actually do a painting. In the beginning I painted slower no matter what the subject or complexity. I don't think either the customer or I should be penalized or "rewarded" by my years of experience and the ability to now paint faster. Nor do I think just because a painting was less complex and took less time to paint should I consider that my expertise and knowledge is worth less. Sometimes we are our own worst critiques of the "worth" of a painting.

I have two stories to illustrate that point. One friend loved a particular painting she had done, and entered it in two national competitions only to have it rejected both times. She decided to give it one last chance and in the third competition it was accepted, won an award, and sold! Another friend didn't like a particulare piece very much, but her husband did. In her absence, he entered it in a local competition and it too had the same results as my other friend - accepted, award & sale. I use these stories to illustrate my opinion that using the square and factor method of pricing takes all the emotion out of the decision. Oh! one last thing. If the piece is framed - and today most of them are - I add the price of the frame to the price of the artwork. That way when someone wants to "dicker" over the price by saying they don't want the frame it is in, I can tell them OK, the price of the artwork is such and such and I get the frame back to use again.

If you live in an area where people are influenced by the "under a hundred" (or whatever) pricing theory, you could make the painting $99, but I don't think that is something one should do for fine art. For one thing, when you get into a gallery they aren't going to want to deal with the uneven number, and you need to keep your prices the same whether you are selling directly to the client or through a gallery.

Good luck on your office sales. The first sale is always a thrill.


10-30-2005, 04:05 PM

I use foamcore from Canson. Don't know if it's acid free. But I do put a Canson paper behind the pastel paper that I use (usually Colourfix), just in case.
Acid free foamcore is expensive.
Foamcore is also used by architects for makets(spell ?); I suppose they use cheap one.



10-30-2005, 04:35 PM
Jose, I'm not sure that Canson is any more archival than regular foamcore. "Acid free" doesn't mean "archival". I know that is confusing to the public. I worked in the picture framing business for 14 years, and had to explain the difference almost daily to new customers.


10-30-2005, 08:51 PM
thanks so much Peggy. Great info about pricing. It's so much easier to be objective about pricing when you are dickering with a stranger than it is for a co-worker.

10-31-2005, 08:44 PM
Well thanks everyone. I covered the paper in glassine, and sandwiched it between 2 foamcore boards, and whacked everyone on the bus with it, and took it to work today. Before calling the co-worker who was interested I figured I needed to do something "business-like" about the price to take the emotion out of it. I started with the method of so-much per square inch - but it was difficult to scale. I have paintings from 8x10 up to 18x24 - though more in smaller sizes. If I went for $1/square inch it gave me $80 for an 8x10 which didn't seem way out of line, but that went up to $430 for an 18x24, which seems far more than I could charge at this point! If I went down to 50 cents/square inch it brought the 18x24's down to $215 which seemed more reasonable, but only $40 for the 8x10's which felt just a tad low. So I finally ended up with a "graduated" scheme, based on size but not a strict one-to-one progression in the price per square inch department. This is what I gave her:
8x10 $50.00
9x12 $60.00
11x14 $75.00
12x16 $100.00
16x20 $150.00
18x24 $200.00

I then said for a framed painting add $25, and for a commissioned piece add $25, and a blurb about putting down a non-refundable deposit for a commissioned piece. (LOL, I was trying to think of everything!).

Well, when she came to see the picture in person she loved it and said she wanted to buy it, but I said "well, we have not talked about price yet, so I'm not sure what you are expecting", and I then handed her one of my sheets of paper I'd printed, and said "but these are the basic prices" and then added that I would give a 10% discount to friends and co-workers, and that since the painting she liked was not a full 18x24, but more like 17 1/2 x 22 - I would just charge her the price of a 16x20. With that and the 10% discount the price was $135 which I felt seemed fair. I told her the prices were based strictly on size, so again that did help keep the emotion out of it.

At that point she backed off a little and said she needed to go home and talk to her husband about it. That may be her face-saving way of getting out of something more than she was expecting, and she can come back in tomorrow and say "I'm sorry but my husband does not like it" or some such. Until I mentioned price she seemed willing to by it even without his say-so.

So we'll see tomorrow. It may have fallen through, but at least I have sort of a game plan now. I might even sell it to someone else. The guy I work with who sits next to me saw the picture too, and he said how much he really loved it, and thought it was much nicer than the little thumbnail print of it - which he claimed does not do it justice. So maybe he will buy it if she doesn't. :)

And even if neither do it's been a fun experience. The other guy who sits diagonally down the row from me told me I needed an agent. :D

11-02-2005, 04:20 PM
Well, the latest is that it's now two days since she went away and said she needed to ask her husband, and she has not contacted me or called me or anything. I suppose that is a good hint that she decided my painting was far too expensive! I wonder what sort of price she expected?

The opinion is split between the two guys I work with every day. One said he thought the picture was great and he didn't think it was overpriced at all, and that if I had gone much lower it would have been too cheap, and who wants "cheap art"? LOL. The other says I was way overpriced and he would never dream of paying something like that for a painting that was only black and white anyway, and had no color. :)

11-02-2005, 05:03 PM
Hi Debbie! Congrats on this flurry of interest in your work!!! You have really been working hard and you deserve it!
You sound like you've got a plan and you should stick to it, it's a good one. You know what? You'll never be able to please all the people all the time, just some of them some of the time, so go with what your head and heart tell you feels right for you and don't back down. You are RIGHT to keep the emotional state out of it. It's business.
You might tell the woman that she could pay you in installments! if she ever crosses your path again. She might have been embarrassed that she couldn't afford the art, NOT that she thought you priced it too high for its worth. My husband has done installment payments with 2 people and it's worked out fine. Not saying any method is foolproof and without problems but it just might work for you in some cases.
Keep at it!!!

11-02-2005, 06:45 PM
Cindy is right, installment plans can be very helpful in making sales that might otherwise fall through. However, you need to know that artists have been burned by this method too. The client makes one payment, takes the work home and somehow just never gets around to making the final payment/s. Be certain to treat every client (including office workmates) like a business client. Provide a written contract that clearly spells out the expectations for each of you.

Some artists I know work on the installment plan, but it is more like "lay away". They keep the artwork until all payments are made. They also have a provision that requires all payments be made on a specified timetable, and if it isn't paid off when agreed upon or the client changes their mind there is a penalty of a certain percentage of the selling price that isn't refunded. The reasoning behind that provision is that they figure they've held the work off the market for the client thereby possibly not having it sell outright to someone else. Since all of this is in a written contract there is no arguement about the client not understanding what was expected of them.


11-03-2005, 04:37 PM
Oh well, she finally came by today. Said she still loved the painting but her husband was dead set against it because he does not like musical instruments, and it was "too big" so he'd have to look at it all the time! Well whether all true or just a face-saver it still means "no sale" so I guess I'm still not "professional" yet, LOL.

But the good thing it did was that it made me actually write up a little sheet with some pricing information, and a *brief* bio, and some advice about how to care for pastel paintings. Really all I said there was :
- painting should be framed under glass
- painting should be matted so the actual picture does not touch the glass surface.
- mats should be 'acid-free' or 'archival'
- painting should not be hung in direct sunlight.

Anything else critical I should think of to include in case I have a bite of interest in the future? I feel that I actually did take a step forward just typing up this sheet and having it available to hand out.

Bill Foehringer
11-03-2005, 05:59 PM
Good for you Debbie! It was an unexpected happy feeling when people wanted to buy my first few practically right off the easel as I did them. Enjoy! As for framing you may want to use 'found' frames as a standard frame included in price and mention custom framing is available extra. Just have your frame(ing) costs in mind so that you can deduct the expense if the buyer wants to reframe or buy unframed. BillF

Bill Foehringer
11-03-2005, 06:06 PM
If it's pastel and you don't want it sprayed with fixative mention that. Also sometimes a point driver can dislodge pastel particles so specify non-impact framing methods like framer's offsets or turnbuckles or simply a pressure driver and not a staple-type driver that whacks the frame. BillF

11-03-2005, 06:21 PM
I also have these in my instructions: 1. Donít touch the surface of the pastel painting, it can smear.

2. Keep it upright. If you turn it upside down, particles of pastel might fall on the glass. One can prop it up to keep it upright but still be able to get to the back to attach the backing