How to Create and Sell Original Paintings

Most people believe to sell original paintings is difficult

But I think selling art is fun

Like anything in life, if you sell original paintings the right way, it works beautifully and customers come back for more

This post shows how I sell my abstract art

Having fun at every step in the creative process to produce and then sell original paintings

From speaking with customers… Dealing with suppliers… And of course, producing a quality piece of work – which the customer loves

Following are some important steps in my creative process

After more than 20 years as an artist , I have learnt this lesson…

Intro Point. The process is the key to success.

This post shows how to use a proven successful creative process to sell original paintings and at the same time build loyal customers by simply, having fun and doing what you love.

Sound ok?

So, lets start with the client. In the video below, Mr Tucker came to my place to describe his initial ideas.

Point 1. Confidence was built instantly and a verbal agreement was reached with the customer at the first meeting.

Following some quality discussion, talks were ended as Mr and Mrs Tucker had to return to Tasmania

Next stage, I flew across the Bass Strait to Tasmania to visit the museum and understand in more depth the environment and location in which my painting will hang….

Point 2. If possible, I like to visit first hand the building or room where the final painting will reside.

This builds confidence in the customer because it shows the artist really cares about the project and wants to understand the context of the final artwork. Very important.

But only if it’s financially viable

During initial discussions about the Tuckers vision for the abstract art painting and indeed the tennis museum in Tasmania, I decided to show my client Brett Whiteley’s painting of ‘The Cricketers’ created in 1964, to give a feel of the painting that I had in mind for the tennis museum.

Obviously, the subject matter would be changed to a tennis match, but I love the abstract painterly treatment given by Whiteley in this painting below.

Point 3. I like to use famous Australian paintings as inspiration for my work.

“The cricket match” (1964) by Brett WHITELEY, Longueville, NSW, Australia . Private collection

[ Approximately two weeks later after flying to Tasmania ]

After visiting the Tucker museum and seeing firsthand the space where the commission will hang once completed, I was clear in my mind what was needed for the project.

The nicely lit space below at the museum is attractive and perfect for a large modern contemporary painting on canvas.

Tucker Museum blank space where the customer wants an original Brushfield painting

However, as instructed by the customer the original painting must fit nicely the width of the space, but not come down too low, so people sitting on the bench are comfortable

Dimensions of the painting will be 1.8m x 75cm

Point 4. I pay close attention and listen very carefully to what the customer wants

Furthermore, the colours of the painting must match the interior décor already established in the room. Neutral colours with an abstract tennis flavour will be the direction of the original painting. As the client establishes in the movie below.

Whilst in the museum I heard amazing stories on the history of tennis backed up by antique magazines, famous autographs, newspaper articles [pictured below] and valuable memorabilia. In fact, one piece of memorabilia personally donated by Roger Federer to the Tucker Museum.

Tucker museum tennis article in a major Tasmania newspaper displaying the various artefacts

To help me better understand the customers, from both a male and female perspective, I also took video footage [below] of Mr Tucker in the museum, who passionately told the story of the social development of tennis and how he wants this concept to be captured artistically and incorporated into the original painting commission.

After spending one day and one night staying in the luxurious tennis museum, I felt that I had a good grasp of what the client wanted. Together over dinner we discussed artistic ideas, particular colours, important tennis history and the future of the museum in depth.

Point 5. I had fun and included all available people and a variety of ideas to enrich the process. This provided creative options for me to possibly use in the abstract painting.

Then on return to my Victorian studio, I put down some rough thoughts onto paper and began to understand how the original painting might be laid out. [pictured below]

Wasting no time, I ordered a specific custom-made canvas with my preferred style of stretchers from a local art supplier.

Point 6. When dealing with suppliers, I never wait to the last minute. I order what I need immediately after speaking with the customer.

I don’t like the thin stretchers (pieces of wood behind the canvas) because they can sometimes buckle over time. Also, they look cheap. So I clearly instructed my supplier to create the canvas from thick pinewood. Thicker stretchers look strong, sturdy and more valuable hanging when original paintings are on the wall.

Point 7. Adding value in the small details, builds an artists quality reputation and provides a solid foundation for success.

“Tennis Museum Thumbnail” (2012) by Simon Brushfield. Pen on Paper, 21cm x 10cm

..Now, the elements in the picture above might change dramatically once paint hits the canvas. Original abstract art is difficult to control and often has a life of its’ own. But early rough sketches help settle my mind upon the dimensions and scale of an original  painting, the name and how some of the visual elements might appear.

Point 8. I don’t want to tightly control the artistic process. I like to go with the flow and let the process take the lead.

I decided to call the painting “Forty-fiffteen”, an idea that came on the plane whilst thinking about the future direction of the artwork.

The canvas is primed and textured in the studio ready for imagery (March 2012)

…..The next step is to semi randomly adhere texture to the surface of the canvas. This gives the original painting added interest inviting the eye to look further into the detailed work of the composition. Texture often invites the viewer to reach out and touch a painting.

Of course, in the the major galleries of the world touching a painting is prohibited.

In the early stages of a composition I sometimes like to begin with a horizon line (in yellow), to help me organise the visual elements. At this early stage there has already been around 4 layers of paint applied.

Point 9. Once finished my paintings receive approximately 20-30 layers of paint.

This creative process adds considerable stress to poor quality canvas’, so it is important to order a high quality gauge of canvas. This enables the abstract artist to rub, scrape and work the paint hard into the canvas to create the desired effect.

Thematic colour and serving character added to form a foundational tone of the tennis painting

…I am using charcoal because I love the creative effect it provides when mixed with oil paint.

However, I am still very much aware that future layers may cover over much of the imagery that I have created at this stage.

Point 10. I am not overly judgemental on my art too early, refinements are made later

Thinking about my customers interior colour scheme and the Australian identity, I decided to add a layer of neutral green which ties in nicely with the tennis theme, similar colour to an indoor tennis court, and the clients decor

Thematic colours added and serving player included to form a foundational tone of the tennis painting

……I like the rhythmic feature of a player serving. I want to capture this movement in the character towards the top right hand corner of the artwork. In future layers I will add colour and a sense of movement similar to Brett Whiteley’s painting in his cricketers picture above.

Creating a Brett Whiteley style of image for the tennis player will come later. My most pressing priority was to figure out how I was going to use the space above the net in the left handside of the painting.

Point 11. Creating a well balanced harmonious rhythmic layout in a composition is essential.

After much time spent pondering this problem, I decided to let my thoughts go and begin just to paint. As I begun, instantly I figured out what needed to be done. During conversations with the customer, Mr Tucker mentioned that he played much of his early tennis days in Melbourne, especially The South Yarra Tennis Club.

This seemed to tie in nicely with the Tucker museum and the Australian Open tennis tournament held every year in Melbourne. The Tasmanian museum houses many high profile tennis identities synonymous with the Davis Cup and the Australian Open tennis tournaments.

The marketing of the Australian Open is often centred around images of a lively metropolitan city.

A place where Mr Tucker spent much of his youth playing tennis. And in my mind during those early days, behind was a backdrop of the city. As I painted, these thoughts were circling through my mind. Then surprisingly, shapes developed on the canvas.

Point 12. Often by playing with paint and without conscious effort, relevant abstract images appear on the canvas.

In this case, I saw in abstract form a city skyline. With the tennis player serving amongst the city buildings, it seems to me to fit perfectly with the social aspect of tennis where many people come together and enjoy their favourite game in the city.

Either at small local clubs like South Yarra, or the larger international stadium’s like Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Basic pictorial elements in place and the first layer of varnish has been applied to allow for future layers not to affect the foundational elements

[ Approximately one month after flying to Tasmania and visiting the museum ]

City roofs and skyscraper buildings intermingled with abstract forms of people in the background behind the net

At this stage I needed confirmation from the client about the direction of the painting. Mrs Tucker provided valuable feedback stating she wasn’t happy with the 40/15 idea and felt the tennis net was too dominant. In an email she stated…

“Simon, I’m not too keen on the 40/15 idea I feel that the strong net and the 40/15 will make it more of a poster (billboard) than I wanted. I love the Brett Whiteley cricketers. Is it possible to give “tennis players”  the same abstractedness, that Whiteley has done with the cricketers, where background and players seem to merge a little?”

Point 13. Involve the client in every important step in the creative process.

This is the perfect kind of feedback an artist needs midway through a painting.

Mrs Tuckers comments were incorporated into the development of the picture below displaying a less dominant net and a subdued background more in line with Whiteley’s painting.

The background still needs to be refined.

Also the foundational figures and skin tones of the tennis players in action have been inserted. These will be abstracted more at a later stage and I look forward to further confirmation from the customer, before taking things to the next step.

Lunging Tennis Player detail by Simon Brushfield. Colours will be muted and neutralised towards the end of the process

Point 14. Respond positively to the customers comments and respect their input.

The customer is now very happy with the direction of the abstract painting because the net has reduced importance in the composition and the players are more abstracted (pictured below).

The painting still requires minor improvements which I like to complete over time. The final stages needs much time and reflection, gazing at the original painting for extended periods of time in order to allow thoughts and ideas to settle.

Pale Tennis painting by Simon Brushfield 1024x407 How to Create and Sell Original Paintings

Tennis Painting with refined background by Simon Brushfield

Above the original abstract painting is a little too pale and white , which means much of the tennis character has been nullified. I need to bring back the personality of the game through colour with two final additions.

Firstly, a neutral green and secondly, a final coat of varnish which will add that richness and character to the piece which makes it an easier process to sell original paintings, because they look more impressive.

Point 15. Don’t get lost in the artistic process, but remember where the painting will finally hang.

After much discussion about which courier service to use, it was decided upon that Packsend was the best option.

They offered a reasonable and timely service and the original painting is now in their Geelong store waiting to be flown to Tasmania. Will update the post upon arrival in Launceston and receive the final comments from the customer.

[The commission from beginning to end, took a pproximately two months ]

Below is the original painting after final touch ups were completed.

Final Tennis Museum Painting by Simon Brushfield on the Wall in Tasmania

Point 16. Get written feedback from the customer, to use as future testimonial reference

To close the project nicely I received an email from the customer Mr Denis stating, “the painting we just love so much…FANTASTIC, THANK YOU”. His wife, Mrs Tucker, in a separate email was also very thankful saying, “Your painting has arrived and we just love it. You have understood exactly what we enjoy… Again well done, we think a great achievement”.

A few months later Mr Tucker sent another email saying “the fantastic vibes I have for your ‘Tennis In The Skyline’ (as I call it)……has been fantastic”.

So that’s how I like to work my creative process and sell original paintings.

I get out of bed to have fun being creative, doing what I love

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Sell Original Paintings: How to create and sell original paintings
About Simon Brushfield

Simon Brushfield is an artist whose work has been described as ‘poetic, enigmatic and dreamlike’ (Michael Berry, "Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia" book). His paintings have been exhibited and sold across Australia and internationally. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to Simons VIP list and have posts sent directly to your inbox.

Comments

  1. Interesting to see the process. And the final painting is very nice…. beautiful !

  2. Your process is fascinating to me. Thank you for sharing it. I also enjoyed seeing the progress your painting made through each step.
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  3. Hi Simon,

    Thank you very much for sharing this with us.
    I have enjoyed your approach and have learnt a great deal.
    Your end product is beautiful and pleasing to the eye.

    Warm regards,
    Heather

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