The nuts and bolts of buying an original painting

I often get asked for advice on what to consider when buying original paintings. Not an easy position to be in for an artist but I get that you want to know that you have made a good decision. Original work can be an expensive purchase and I know you want to make sure you are making the best choice. So here are my nuts-and-bolts considerations for buying an original painting.

Please note: all the paintings shown in this post are SOLD to patrons on Mayne Island, and in Victoria British Columbia, as well as in New York City, the state of Illinois and in Switzerland. For my original oil paintings currently available please visit the Art of Day online gallery store.

Buy what you love. Yes, a painting can be considered an investment but that should not be the primary reason it is enhancing your walls. Many times paintings do substantially increase in value but there is always a possibility that they won’t. When purchasing a painting, my suggestion is that you can imagine continued enjoyment of the work for the rest of your life.

Think about where the painting is going to “live.” What room will it be in? What will it add to that room? What purpose is the painting going to serve? For example, I often suggest a seascape on a wall where I feel the room needs opening up or some movement. Conversely, I will suggest a dense forest painting on a wall in a room that needs a feeling of warmth or privacy. However, sometimes we just fall in love with a work and will create or organize a room or space to enjoy its company.

Stick to your budget with creative vigor. No one needs to be art poor. However, there is usually a way to have a few carefully chosen original pieces in your possession. First, decide on your budget. Next decide if you need to save for your painting or if you are ready to purchase now. If you are saving for an original piece, can you buy a card or a small print of the artist’s work to help focus your intention? This is a great way to support an artist and a successful strategy to eventually being able to purchase an original painting. Also, if there is a specific painting you just can’t live without but it is beyond your current budget – ask about purchasing on lay-away. I have done this with many buyers on what I call a three-payment-lay-away-plan. The buyer makes 3 equal payments on pre-agreed dates and when the final payment is received they take the painting home. Finally, consider making the artist a fair offer within your budget. Pricing is partially subjective and many factors are taken into consideration. I have been known to accept a reasonable offer below a ticket price simply because I knew the work was going to be appreciated. Often, I make a counter offer that adds value without reducing the price significantly such as delivering and helping to hang the painting or paying for part of the shipping costs.

Ask to take the painting home on trial. Sometimes it is just too hard to decide if a painting is right for your home or office space. You are almost sure but you need to “see.” Many artists and galleries will let you take a painting home on trial for a few days. You pay for the painting by cheque or by leaving credit information and it is not processed unless you go through with the sale. Further, with online purchases I offer a 30 day satisfaction guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase it will be fully refunded if the painting is returned to me unharmed at the buyer’s expense within 30 days.

Know the quality of what you are buying. By this I mean the physical quality of the products used to create the painting. For example, I use premium quality canvas or mounted boards and good quality water-miscible oil paints. Sometimes artists, out of necessity, will use economy grade or poor quality materials. If it is not obvious what was used – ask. A painting on good quality material using good paint should offer more than one life time of enjoyment. However, poor quality products can be fragile and a painting will need extra care for preservation. You still may choose to buy it but it is best to know ahead of time the quality of the materials used.

Take your time. Be prepared to wait for “your painting.” I have often told this to patrons of my work. It has sometime taken months and even years until “their painting” was painted. The deep smile of knowing “this is the one” is worth the wait. Of course some buyers become collectors and they have purchased a handful of paintings. For some reason it seems to get easier after the first purchase.

If you don’t see exactly the painting  you want, ask about commissioning a piece. I have only one word of caution. Do not ask the artist to paint something just like the one they have for sale only in colours to match your couch. I once had a buyer do this and my response was “have you considered buying a new couch to go with the painting?” Also, not all artists do commissioned work. This is always a good first question to ask before making a request. Sometimes you may be looking for a larger or smaller piece than what is being exhibited and the artist will have what you are looking for in their inventory. So ask for what you want because you just might be able to get it.

There you have it! Good luck with your original painting purchases.

Again, for my original oil paintings currently available please visit the Art of Day online gallery store.

Sprout question: What nuts-and-bolts considerations are part of your art purchases?

STUDY OF BLUE  solo exhibition opens Thursday June 30, 2011.

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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