View Full Version : Is there as much demand for pastels?
06-04-2008, 10:25 PM
In another forum someone said that pastels are not as widely accepted by galleries, and not as much in demand by clients; it was also said that the prices of works done in pastel tend to be lower. Is this true?
Have people here found that pastel work is as readily accepted as work done in other mediums?
If the art is very well done, does that change the equation?
I'm just trying to get a better sense of this, and thought artists on this forum might be able to clarify....
06-04-2008, 10:41 PM
My gallery tells me that what the public objects to is not pastels (or water colors) but rather the reflective glass. To counter this I frame with AR glass (reflection control glass) and no longer use mats framing against the glass. I paint in rich nearly oil painterly style and have no trouble selling these at the same price I would put on an oil painting.
Take a look at the web sites of some of the top pastelists on WC and thoughout the web and take note of the prices and how many are marked sold. Those sites don't look too different from the oil painters'. The build it and they will come theory works. If enough paintings are put out there and enough education of the public happens.
06-04-2008, 10:43 PM
Well I think it depends on the Artist and the quality of the work. Prices for pastels are lower in price than say oils of the same size and quality normally.
I was talking to a Artist friend of mine who was telling me that at present pastels are in high demand right now. But still I think it depends on the Artist and the quality of work. I've seen some pastels go for $3,000.00 and up, 2 Artist I can think of that get those prices are, Doug Dawson of Colorado and Wolf Kahn of Vermont. For me I wish I could get something like that for a pastel. Both are exceptional artist, Doug has been painting for 25+ yrs. & Wolf has been painting for 50+ yrs.
06-05-2008, 12:44 AM
It sounds like there are different attitudes in different parts of the country (in the US), where in some places pastels are marketed with little difference in attitude than any other artwork, while in others there's a strong resistance. Here in NM I don't see too much difference or problem.
And then of course you can always go look at the still life paintings of Andrew Hemingway... I can't tell you what he's getting for his pastels today but I know that back in 2004 he was routinely getting between $12000 and $28000... I bet the prices have only risen!
I was fortunate to meet and interview Andrew Hemingway for The Pastel Journal in the summer of 1999. He is a very interesting artist. When you see his work up close, you can see that the shapes are created by layers and weavings of marks, made mostly with harder pastels and many pastel pencils. He relies a lot on the optical mix of color, placing strokes over and next to each other to create the effect of a certain color. He works on a sanded surface for his very large pieces, and on a surface similar to La Carte paper for his smaller pieces.
The interview and reproductions of some paintings were in the November 1999 issue of the magazine, which sold out some time ago. If you know anyone who has retained copies, the paintings alone are worth taking a look. There's one with peppers in plastic grocery story bags that is just unbelievable.
One thing I found interesting about Andrew is that he does not belong to organizations or what he called "the celebrity art" group. He rarely advertises his work, and is a somewhat shy and reclusive person. He almost never allows an interview, and I was very lucky to get his agreement. He agreed only because I wanted to discuss philosophical matters and did not insist on "step-by-step" illustrations, which he will not give. He was very reluctant to discuss technique, as he believes artists must develop their own techniques.
(That was Maggie Price, writing here on WC back in 2004.) Interesting, huh?
06-05-2008, 01:45 AM
I think everyone who's already stated an opinion has been right in one way or another. I'm most familiar with the areas in the US west of the Mississippi, and would say generally speaking much depends upon the reputation of the artist as to just how high the prices may be. I know many who paint in both oil and pastel who price same sized paintings exactly the same, and both sell. As TJ mentioned, most objections are to the glare of glass, and not the medium. Using reflection control glass (not non-glare glass), and eliminating the mats seems to be the most favored method of dealing with that "problem". Using a chanel spacer between the glass and artwork is all that's needed. I do know some artists who put the artwork directly againist the glass, but depending upon where you live that may be a huge proplem as the artwork might mold without "breathing space". Framers and archivists don't consider that to be the smart "archival method" of framing anything on paper. Of cousre using archival methods of framing will also include making the selling price of the work higher, but that doesn't seem to be a problem either. Clients like to see the work unhindered by glare and they like knowing the artist thinks enough of their work to go to the trouble of framing in a safe manner.
Off hand in the area of the country with which I'm familiar if the pastels are priced lower than oils or watercolors it is because not enough painters in that area are using pastels nor are they educating the public and gallery owners about the longevity of the medium. In addition to that, too often they aren't carefully framing them either, and dusting and glare do tend to create a negative presentation....
06-06-2008, 02:41 AM
Hi! Some great comments here. I have always priced my pastels and my oils or acrylics at the same price per size! And always framed them the same way, except for using glass on the pastels.
Yes---I think the glass is always an issue, as Peggy and TJ note. And I've had a gallery owner tell me her experience with most pastels was that they always seemed to have dirty mats (with stray pastel dust.) She used to call me (now retired) and ask me, "What is it, again, that you do to keep your pastel from every getting all over the place?" (I fixed it---carefully---and never ever made the painting darker from it because of the way I did it.) She was very leary of pastel paintings because of the loose dust on many pieces she tried to show. She got very tired of having to replace the matting on works from out of town.
I used linen liners so often until the last year or so---and now only the spacers that Peggy mentioned---with frames that are at least 3" wide.
I think Peggy made some really good points about location. But any really good painting has an oppotunity to 'find a new home!" :D So it's always a good idea to work to ever strengthen one's work! Very best wishes! Donna ;-}
06-07-2008, 07:18 PM
If it moves the viewer any painting will sell. I find also that an educated gallery director and staff will be able to espouse the positives of a pastel. I know Janey Monafo does well selling pastels, and I concur with others, the artists reputation will help to sell the piece.
Cynically, I've found some patrons and gallery owners use the glass issue as a cop out. In reality, I think its their own lack of education that is their downfall. If you can get their ear, and educate them, then that is somebody to value, because even if they don't buy one of your works, they will have a new appreciation for the medium, and maybe, just maybe, next time they will purchase a piece.
Some however, just don't want to be educated. I don't find those true lovers of art. I've had a gallery say to me that they don't like to display items under glass, as I am looking at all the watercolors on the wall under glass. Likewise, I've been in shows and had people tell me "I love your work, but it's under glass" and then see them buy a watercolor under glass at the end of the show. If my work doesn't move you, fine, I can live with that, but the glass issue tends to rub me the wrong way. In the end I just smile and thank them, and move on.
06-07-2008, 09:09 PM
Some however, just don't want to be educated. I don't find those true lovers of art. I've had a gallery say to me that they don't like to display items under glass, as I am looking at all the watercolors on the wall under glass. Likewise, I've been in shows and had people tell me "I love your work, but it's under glass" and then see them buy a watercolor under glass at the end of the show.
If my work doesn't move you, fine, I can live with that, but the glass issue tends to rub me the wrong way. In the end I just smile and thank them, and move on.
If a viewer doesn't like my work, there isn't a need to give any explanation as to why they will walk away without a purchase, especially if the explanation is about disliking glassed artwork when they act to the contrary. Those people or that gallery just aren't the right fit.
If one's artwork looks professionally framed under glass either by the artist or a professional framer, it shows and will be appreciated by another. And Donna said it beautifully: "But any really good painting has an opportunity to 'find a new home!"
I believe to sell your work and connect with buyers it always takes a good amount of marketing and getting oneself out there via many avenues, not just galleries.
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