Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What is a Painting Worth?

What is a painting worth? There are so many ways of looking at this. Are we talking about a dollar amount? Are we talking about building an art collection? Are we talking about the enjoyment of looking at a piece of art day after day and seeing something in a new light?

The topic has come to mind recently as I have made some sales, created new art, and have put prices on the new pieces. I'd like to use a painting I hung this week as an example of the different thoughts I had on pricing it.

Tam Giang Lagoon—Laundry Day
Transparent Watercolor on Paper
22" x 20"
Since our trip to Southeast Asia, every time I push the button to start my washing machine, I think of this woman and the other women I met on this trip. I not only think of the conveniences of my life, of all that I have, but also of the connection I feel to the women I meet in my travels. 

I am thankful to be invited into a home to use a flush toilet which is a source of pride for the home owner. I enjoy being allowed to peel garlic in preparation for the up-coming festivities. I am honored that a woman wants to touch my pale skin and wispy hair. These are all ways we relate to and touch each other. We are communicating and saying we are women and understand each other in the deepest ways. We are the mothers, the cooks, the washer-women. We have a universal bonding because of our gender. (Although in our country, men are now taking on much more of the domestic duties, that is not a world-wide trend.)

So how do I put a price on this piece of art? It is full of meaning to me and I trust it will touch someone else. This painting might speak to an American who has traveled the world, a woman or man who can relate to the daily tasks we all participate in. It might attract a viewer who loves the background neutrals in contrast to the bright colors of the human figure and sees it as a beautiful piece of art. It might go to the home of a collector, who has seen my work mature over the years and wants to add to their art collection.

I once read that to price your art, an artist must consider the money paid out for education, supplies, time spent, etc. And then would I include my travel, my life experience? If that were the case, this piece of art would be worth thousands of dollars!

But, of course, this is simply a work on paper where I tried to capture a moment and convey a bit of everyday life of a woman halfway around the world from me. It's size is somewhere between a half-sheet and full sheet of watercolor paper. This is reality of how I price my work. A painting this size, whether it includes a trip around the world or a 2-hour crazy inspiration, I price at $750-$800 framed and ready to hang on the wall. It seems like a bargain to me!

1 comment:

Ruth Armitage said...

You're right, Margaret! It is a beautiful painting, and well worth the price for an original. Many people pay more for a weekend away than they would for something they could enjoy for years. I love looking at the artwork that I've inherited and collected. It really makes my home unique. Thanks for putting this in perspective :)