Selling: Motivation (Part 1 of 3)

Toys in Snow, 11X14, by Carol L. Douglas. I thought I would illustrate this post with the first thing I ever sold, but the truth is that my records don’t go back that far. This painting, however, is owned by the person who pushed me to start teaching.
Yesterday I got an email from N., who’s conflicted. She doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on the business of art, since she has already retired from a successful career. “All I want to do is paint before I can’t anymore,” she wrote.
Nevertheless, her paintings are piling up, and she would like to at least defray her costs. She’s shown without selling, but she understands that visibility is the key to developing a market.
After the storm, 18X24, pastel, by Carol L. Douglas. The buyer remains a loyal collector, but our relationship started at an outdoor art festival.
Before I can advise her about the mechanics of selling paintings, she has to decide if she actually wants to engage in the marketplace. There are excellent painters who don’t, either because they’re either highly introverted or they have other priorities.
Almost all artists take time off from selling here and there. I did that after the crash of 2008. Work wasn’t selling well anyway, and I was feeling the stirrings of a big leap forward.
Nevertheless, for most of us selling and showing are integral parts of the art process. They give valuable feedback on one’s work. They validate that what we are doing is important. They are steps in the dialogue between artist and audience.
The Rio Grande in New Mexico, 18X24, by Carol L. Douglas. This was purchased by a collector of my work, but she never would have seen it had it not been shown in a public exhibition.
I have found that, contrary to expectations, the more time I spend on marketing, the more time I paint. However, marketing does take time—between a quarter and a half of the time I devote to my career. So my recommendation to N. is to plan on living longer, so she has time for both painting and selling.

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