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Selling Paintings: Do Large or Small Paintings Sell More?

Should you use a particular size in order to sell more paintings?

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If you paint smaller paintings, will you sell more than if you paint only large paintings? When Victorlm posted this question on the Painting Forum, he got some interesting responses, collated here for easy reading. (See also: Art Myths.)

Selling Paintings -- The Problem:

“Some people advised me to paint smaller paintings because they are more affordable and people don't have much room in their houses to hang them. However, some subjects don't lend themselves to a small format. So, I have to keep the larger paintings until I find the right buyer and this creates both a storage and selling problem.“ – Victorlm

Selling Paintings -- The Answers:

  • "It's been my experience that all paintings sell but it's nice to have little ones or prints if you have them for those who are on a tighter budget.”– Ruthie
  • "Smaller painting sell for less money, but they don't take less skill and talent. If you can fill that niche, and work well, you might be happy. But look at your work and your work habits. Do they lend themselves to painting small? Or smaller? Or even little? Some work has to be large. And some painters cannot paint smaller paintings well. You will have to try it. Just do whatever you do well, and it will sell.” -- Starrpoint
  • "I really think you need to do both. I’d make the larger size formats (16" x 20" and larger) but to also offer smaller paintings (8" x 10", or even as small as 5” x 7”) to be more affordable to a wider cross section of buyers. To cite an example of how good small paintings sell, I belong to the oldest watercolor society in America, and each year at Christmas time we have a special show called the ‘Little Picture Show’ where the maximum allowable size is 8" x 10", and we usually get around 130 or so to exhibit. The show is a sell-out nearly every year without fail! Also, we sell a few of the larger paintings because the customers will buy the small works to give as gifts, and buy the larger ones for themselves, so it's a great ‘hook’ to get buyers into the gallery!” -- Painter421
  • “My smaller paintings seem to sell quicker to impulse the buyer, but personally I prefer the freedom I have painting in a larger format. I get satisfaction that the buyer really loved my work, and wasn't just filling a space.” -- artworkscc
  • “My teacher suggested that you paint a regular size painting (16” x 20” or so) first, and work out all the problems. Then a small version can be done, without being cramped fixing errors.” -- Udyofeverett
  • “I paint only small paintings. Many tell me I should try bigger sizes, but I don't feel ready yet. I have many reasons for painting smaller sizes. Number one, they can fit in, in so many spots in a home. The cost in material is less, and they take less time.” Yvonne
  • “I do not think it matter what size the painting is if it gives a person the right feeling about it. Colours, subject and medium up to a point all play a part. Also if someone really does not have the room they could ask if you could paint a smaller one for them.” -- Artyclare27
  • “Many (if not most) artists price their work by the size. I think this is not a fair way of presentation. I know that the public prefers to see consistency in prices (as well as in the paintings of any artist), but I like to price based on how I consider the work in relation to my other work. Perhaps I haven't arrived at a style and when I do one that relatively pleases me artistically, I feel that this one is worth more. … size shouldn't matter, at least in art. Leonardo da Vinci and Buonarotti were contemporaries, yet the Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel are both considered major works of art after almost five centuries.” -- Frank
  • “I sold a small painting four years ago for what I thought was a large sum; it just came out very well. I have also sold large paintings for much less. I also have had paintings I didn't like very much and yet they were sold and some that I like that were never sold. Now, I'm very attentive to what happens each time and watch people's reactions before I put a price on them. I guess since you never know exactly how a painting is going to come out, the best way to find out is to keep painting as much as you can. Somewhere I heard that Matisse said that if he got one good painting out of 20, he considered himself fortunate. “ --Victor
  • “If I've toiled over a piece of work and it turns out really good in my own opinion, then I always feel that I should charge more. On the other hand though, I've sold pieces that have taken me no time at all and I feel personally that I haven't put much into them and someone will love it (as I stand shaking my head) and pay whatever price I've put on it. I think it all seems to boil down to taste.” -- Ruthie
  • “Size is not everything people choose by colour, feel, subject, does it go with what they have got and then size. Let’s face it if they like it they will buy it or ask for it in a different way. Whether that would be size, shape or colours.” --- Clare
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