How Do We Determine The Prices For Paintings

Does a high price mean the artwork is great?

For myself the answer to this question is easy. A high price means a ‘great’ deal of work went into a painting and this produces the high price. A ‘Studio Masterwork’ is a labour, a struggle, and a joy to complete. Mastering the techniques that are necessary for a sustained effort in the studio do not come easily. The requirements are study, practice, patience, and inspiration. Digging deeply into your ‘whys’ and discovering the ‘hows’ that make it all happen. This all takes time, dedication and purpose. The result is always the best that you can do…and then you move on with a fresh attitude and eager anticipation to the next work.

The pricing of ‘major studio works’ is always considerably higher than the work that is done outside, gathering impressions, moods, motifs, forms, and colours from nature to make the outdoor painting. These ‘outdoor sketches’ are the connection with nature that forms a visual and emotional memory for the sustained effort in the studio.

Is the work ‘great’? Time and taste will determine the pedigree of greatness. The artist does their best and the price reflects their effort and confidence in the paintings merit.

West coast picture of boulders in early spring, Crescent Beach

Magic Realist painting from early 80’s. Spring is just coming and the tufts of beach grass are starting to push through last years growth. Studio Masterwork in acrylic on canvas 24 in. by 20 in.   SOLD

colour effects in landscape art

View Through the Trees of the Little Slocan River. 8 ft. by 2 ft. Acrylic on panel, Studio Masterwork 2008 – 2011


Does a low price mean the artwork is less valuable?

I was setting up to do some ‘search sketches’ on  the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 2011, gathering first impressions of a pale violet grey cloud-bank that was rolling in from the east, gazing out and out and out at the dome of nature and then dashing at it with a black pen and finishing with a tonal wash of West Coast greys and blues. Fifteen minutes later I started a small watercolour of the same scene, having explored the mood and flow of the landscape with my 8 by 10 in. ‘search sketch’. Each drawing is leading to the next painting, be it big or small, it is the culmanation of a process that started with the ‘quick sketch’.

Rembrant threw out his brushes. They had no value to him. Many artists stash away drawings and studies. They hold little value for them.  Art Dealers and Museums are always looking for these little gems  – usually 100 years later.  They value them. A low price still can have lot’s of value. If it’s valuable to the artist it will be valuable for you. After all what’s wrong with a little cash for a quick dash.

Small sketch for sale

This is a quick searching sketch which opened the door for the following painting in watercolour.

Vancouver Island Watercolor painting for sale

Outdoor painting in watercolour 2011 Vancouver Island

I am now working on a large Studio Masterwork ( shown below) based on these two outdoor works. All three works are valued by the artist and all three will be for sale at different prices.

West Coast Clouds

The process is always tumbling, always changing, and always completing. This painting is now  moving towards completion …. how long ? …. when it says, ” I’m done.”

West Coast Clouds ( work in progress )       24 by 36 in.      acrylic on linen canvas

How much is too much for a ‘Munch’

Edvard Munch’s iconic painting sold for 119.9 million at auction. Mr. Munch could have used an advance on this sale at the time of it’s painting since it was painted on ‘cardboard’. He didn’t have the resources  to purchase a canvas. The artist has to do what they do and many have day jobs to support this inner passion. At times it really does get frustrating  and yet we manage to push through and get back at it. Was 119.9 million too much? Hard to answer that one but I believe Edvard Munch could have used some of it!

The bottom line should always be the same for every artist. What is the value of this work? Not how much is it worth? For myself, I put the greatest value on my Studio Works. They are my teachers and they tell me where I am going. They instruct me as to what to do next and at times they give me a lot of homework. My next value is for the Outdoor Paintings that capture a certain something that was beyond my expectation or perceived ability … in short a ‘breakthrough’. A selection of these are brought into the studio and developed without losing their ‘freshness’. The others are left as is and say, ” Do not touch me!” The last value is for the quick sketch that keeps the flow of it all going. Even though it is first to be done it is last to be valued. All three ‘value levels’ are worthy of worth. Some more than others .

Does the Artist demean their ability with a low price on selected studies,drawings, and quick sketches ?

I think it’s fairly obvious that if you are willing to pay $40 for a ‘pseudo print’ why not pay $40 for a genuine piece of art ? As Mr. Munch would advise us, “Sell the little ones and get materials with the money!” Ego Ego where do ‘I’ go. The only shame in a low price is when it’s a shame you didn’t share it for a little cash to someone who wants some real art on their walls and can’t afford the bigger bucks. Be willing to price all your work and have something for everyone … even if it’s just to get them started.

original sketch for purchase online

One of three studies for a Studio Masterwork completed in 2012

Below is a ‘Detail” shot of the finished painting ‘Broken Birch” from 2012. the above sketch in ink and wash started it all. Completion from start to finish was 3 years. Process is movement over time. Inspiration is a moment of time. Take the first bus and get going …transfers are always available.

From sketches to finished Studio Masterwork .. all is a process ... all has merit.

From sketches to finished Studio Masterwork .. all is a process … all has merit.

If someone in 1935 offered to sell you Picasso’s shopping list with a little scribble drawing on the back …at a reasonable price … would you have bought it ???

Pen and grey wash on mat board. A fine little sketch that is 'reasonably' priced'.

Pen and grey wash on mat board. A fine little sketch that is ‘reasonably’ priced’.

Prices as of 2015-16 will now be posted on individual Sketches, Drawings, Outdoor Paintings, Collectable Paintings, and Studio Masterworks in the’ Virtual Show’of Landscapes by Ron Mulvey. Browse through the website and find what you need to start or add to your collection. Thanks for the time you have spent browsing, looking, and learning about Art on this site.

If you want to do some ‘homework’ visit and you will start to discover a very BIG WORLD … the WORLD OF ART … find out how to get quality art for your money!

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