Creating Paintings That Sell 3 min read

It’s not easy to make a living selling paintings. After all, the “starving artist” archetype exists for a reason.

But, in the age of the internet, it’s easier than ever to sell paintings. Using platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, eBay, and Etsy, painters are able to reach a wider audience than they would have been able to in the past.

However, not all paintings are created equal. Just because an artist has access to these platforms doesn’t mean that they’re guaranteed to sell their work.

what size painting sells the best?

Typically, art collectors want pieces that they can show off in their homes. Unless they’re the type of collector who donates work to museums, or they have an enormous house, they want work that fits on their walls. That way, they can look at their pieces everyday and show them off to guests who come over.

So, if it’s sales that you’re after, keep your works within the six-foot range. In other words, don’t make anything that exceeds six feet in either direction. That way, your paintings will fit comfortably on the wall of an average collector’s home.

Oil Painting from Etsy Artist
Oil Painting from Etsy Artist

Don’t stick to one size, either. Make works in a range of different sizes. That way, if a collector is interested in one of your paintings but doesn’t have a huge wall, then you have something smaller that might interest them.

Of course, if you enjoy making huge paintings, don’t let your collector base stop you. But, don’t expect too many people to inquire about them. Most people just don’t have the space.

Already have a painting and trying to figure out how to sell it? Check out our selling art guide here

What color paintings sell best?

There’s an old art world saying that goes, “If it doesn’t sell, make it big. If that doesn’t work, paint it red.”

This truism comes from the fact that customers tend to buy artworks with certain colors in them. Of all of the colors, red is the best-selling color in art.

It’s not the only color that buyers buy, though. They also seem to enjoy bright greens, blues, and yellows.

Math Rothko Untitled
Math Rothko Untitled

Unfortunately, art collectors don’t seem to enjoy earth tones, muted colors, or grey scale works. This isn’t to say that no one buys work with these colors in it, but muted artworks don’t sell as well as brightly colored ones.
Of course, there is a collector base for artists who make black, white, brown, and gray paintings. But, if those are the primary colors in your work, it may be slightly more difficult to find interested buyers.

Want to learn more about color and design? Check out this article…

What are the most popular art subjects?

There isn’t one particular subject that does best in the art market. Some collectors like landscapes, seascapes, and still lives. Others enjoy portraits or abstract pictures. So, whatever you decide to paint, someone out there will be interested in gazing upon it.

oil painting
Popular Etsy Oil Painting

However, certain art subjects do better in certain locations. In small seaside towns, for example, galleries have the easiest time selling pictures of the ocean. So, many artists paint seascapes because its easiest to find buyers for those works.

Also, portraiture may be hard to sell because not everyone wants a picture of an unknown person in their home. Collectors who buy portraiture tend to have works commissioned. That way, they are able to own paintings that depict their family or friends.

Abstraction, however, tends to sell well everywhere. Abstract images usually look good in any home as long as the colors compliment each other.

Where Can I Learn More?

Product Viz is a photo and illustration studio. If you want to learn how to make your Etsy photos — or product photos better — send me an email jake@productviz.com

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