I didn’t start painting until I retired from teaching. . . up until that point, I didn’t realize that I could do anything with a brush or even draw! Then, a painting lesson just for fun changed my life.
Now I take workshops with various artists, read art books, and practice painting for hours and hours. I paint landscapes, character studies, and portraits, and have sold my art locally since I started painting.
Besides selling originals, I also sell prints and notecards. I pay a local printer to make them, and recently I began adding Bible verses or poems to the back of my cards. The lower prices (compared to original artwork) make it easier for someone to purchase these on the spur of the moment.
In case it helps anyone else, here’s what I do to sell my art locally:
1. Posting about my artwork on Facebook
I probably don’t utilize Facebook as much as I should. I want to paint—not market! But Facebook does draw a lot of local attention to my art. I post images of all my finished paintings and sometimes get commissions (or sales) for similar pieces.
I don’t have a regular schedule for Facebook. I just post when I have a new painting to share. I always include the name of the painting, its size, and whether or not I used a reference photo. If the photo wasn’t one that I took myself, I always credit the photographer and send them a print or notecard of the painting as a thank-you.
As you might expect, paintings of local scenes and nearby places seem to garner the most attention from the local Facebook crowd.
2. Selling my art at local events in town
Our small town celebrates each holiday with some sort of organized gathering, and in the summer months, a town market is held on Main Street. I have done well at the Christmas and Cotton Festivals (and not so well at the town market).
At the Christmas affair, I was able to display a large selection of my paintings, but the prints and cards I’ve made of my work were the main sellers.
At the Cotton Festival in October, I was asked to do a solo show in a historical building in Cherokee. The draw of the historical building (not usually open to the public) helped to bring in more of a crowd.
I was able to show a large number of paintings that featured local scenes and familiar places. As a result, I sold several paintings and was able to get two commissions.
Again, the setting had much to do with the success. It brought in people that had no thoughts of art, but then they saw all of my paintings. Prints and notecards of the local scenes were big sellers during this event as well.
Things to be aware of when selling art locally
It has helped my selling efforts greatly to be friendly and to find common interests with viewers. So far, I haven’t paid anything to set up at these local affairs.
I did pay $150 to set up a booth out of town once and didn’t make more than $20 from sales. I’m trying to stay away from those in the future.
The times that I was able to set up an easel and paint in front of the crowd and talk to people as I painted were the most enjoyable to me. The local scenes that I painted were from long-ago photos of buildings no longer standing. Just talking to people about their memories of that time was engaging to me and an encouragement to paint more.
Probably the most important factor in any success I have experienced is just plain hard work. I paint daily, for hours at a stretch. (Mainly because I get lost in what I’m doing and lose track of time!)
I realize that I am fortunate to be able to do this and I’m very thankful. But I think that’s the real key to getting better: miles of canvas to paint, and hours devoted to learning new skills.
I know that I still have much more to do. I am not where I want to be—yet!
Special thanks to Doris Ingle for sharing her tips on selling art at local events and through Facebook! If you’d like to see more of Doris’s art, please visit her website at DorisIngle.com.
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