What goes into the making and selling of one painting?

What goes into the making and selling of one painting?

Recently, I did another painting of a new series “Austrian Lakeviews”.

For the last three weeks I was near one of the most beautiful lakes in Austria – the Weißensee in Carinthia. So, I wanted to paint it ever since I arrived in the area. But it took me a week to find the time to visit the lake and take some photos.

Weissensee * White Lake (Abstract)
Weissensee Abstrakt * White Lake Abstract

When I was finished with one of them, I realized that I had done it in only two hours. I did have to correct some aspects on the following days. That was not surprising because it is a fairly small format since I’m not at home and the table in my hotel room was fairly small. So I’m glad that I chose to bring only my 16 x 12 inch paper with me.

Later that day I started reflecting on how much time goes into the pre- and post- processing of one painting.

Here are the areas that come to mind immediately.

  • Buying supplies – even though I do most of that online, it can take quite some time, eg, comparing prices and special promotions. Or finding the right color, because unfortunately different brands have different names for the same color. Or even the same brand; e.g. Schmincke Akademiecryl and Primacryl don’t use the same names. Sometimes there is no way around it and I have to drive to the store myself. Such as recently I wanted a specific painting knife and could not see the right one online. As a result I decided to stop at one store in Salzburg on my way to Carinthia.
  • Searching the right image – that means either talking the photos myself such as in the case of the Weißensee, or find the right image online. Google image is great but it does not tell me easily whether an image is copyright protected or not. Flickr has the advanced search option for creative commons images. Unfortunate this option does not seem to exist in the mobile version for iPads. 🙁 Another great resource is the website called Paint My Photo. Once you’re a member you can paint any photo posted there. Or, as a last resort I sometimes request permission from a photographer. For example, I’m very inspired by the photos of an Italian photographer on Flickr, Andrea Pucci. I recently asked for his permission and was thrilled to receive it.
  • Choosing an image – deciding which image is the right one for today can take time too. I might have decided on am image yesterday but today I find it not inspiring at all.
  • Laying out the supplies – this can be done in a sec if you have a permanent place. Changing from one medium to another takes time if you have only one table.
  • The actual painting process – might take only two hours like the one mentioned above, but that’s the absolute minimum. Often when I look at it again the next day(s), there are things that need adjusting. This can take several days or longer. Of course – larger formats and more complex topics require more time.
  • Photographing the painting – once I’m satisfied with the result, I take photos from the painting. Sometime that needs waiting for the right time of day or special arrangements for the proper lightning.
  • Processing of photos – these photos are then transferred to the laptop and processed with Lightroom. This process could be a separate blog post. I usually take several photos from the same painting. I do the lens adjustment and cropping of each photo and then decide which one I want to keep. Then comes the naming, tagging and other metadata, before I export them for different types of online usage.
  • Online presence – that’s another big subject that requires a separate post. There are countless options with different advantages and disadvantages. Most of the time, I post them on my website, my Facebook artist page, Twitter, and my Fine Art America page. BUT – posting them online is usually not enough to make a sale. Don’t believe the myth of passive income while you sleep. Passive income happens only after you have invested countless hours of post and self-promoting.
  • Advertising and marketing are the biggest chunk of time. Leslie Saeta mentioned in an interview that it takes 50 % of her time.
  • This includes the planning and preparation of exhibitions. Again this will be a blog post in its own right. For any kind of exhibiting, I need to decide how to frame it and which matting to use. There are several places where I buy frames all of which require driving between 20 to 40 kms. For the matting I usually have to drive twice to the next town (15 kms away), first to choose the color and size and then to pick it up several days later.
  • Hanging an exhibition usually requires several hours. Slightly less time is needed for talking them down. Plus it requires time for the design of the invitation, the price list, the personal bio, and the labeling of each painting. Even though I’ve done several exhibitions in the past, I always seem to underestimate the time necessary for all these details.
  • Shipping – if the painting is sold online, it is usually mailed without matting and frame to save on shipping costs. However it can take a lot of emails until a client comes to a final decision on which painting to buy. And of course, careful packing and shipping takes time.
  • Last but not least, each sale requires the writing of an invoice and/or receipt, as well as doing the bookkeeping process and the taxes.

As you can see, there is more than just the actual painting process that is needed until I have the money in my pocket.

Summary of the above tasks.

Doing a rough estimate on the list above, I came to the following minimal times for just ONE painting:

* Preparations for painting – at least 1.5 hrs
* Painting – between 3 hrs (2 hrs is rare), 3 days or 3 months (with interruptions).
* Post-painting photographing – at least 1.5 hrs
* All tasks around an exhibition – 2 hrs (time split up between several paintings)
* All tasks around an online sale – 3 hrs

All of these estimates do not include the factor that not all paintings are sold. So, you’d have to multiply the hours with a factor, based on the conversion percentage. Neither do these times include all tasks related to general advertising and marketing, both online and offline – for these you can probably double the number of hours. Plus there are all kinds of smaller tasks that are not directly related to one painting or one sale, such as networking and improving your skills.

All in all a good reminder

Even if a painting was done in only two hours, there is much more that goes into it.

> For myself, this is a good reminder for when fixing my own prices.
> For my artist friends, maybe it will help you to be more realistic in your own pricing.
> For those who buy art, I hope it will help you appreciate the time investment by the artist.

Don’t underestimate the time and effort that goes into one painting!

What is your experience? Have you ever tried to calculate the time needed?


The Modern Portrait in Different Techniques

The Modern Portrait in Different Techniques

Mid May I participated in the very last elective seminar of my art studies. The topic of portraits has long interested me and from time to time I practiced portrait drawing and painting with the help of my JKPP friends.

This time the topic was not just “normal” portrait painting.

Excerpt from the course description:

From everybody’s childhood to Leonardo’s spot on the wall, the alienation of physiognomical perception is the source of interpretation and insight. In this process it can happen that “only the inner image” of the physiognomy of the other comes fully into its own (as can be seen in the works of Beckmann, Ensor, Kokoschka, Modigliani, Schiele, Picasso and others).

In this  portrait seminar we will emphasize the own view and the subjective visual language, because the exploration of the vis-à-vis will also further the exploration of one’s own self.

During this seminar the goal was not so much to paint a realistic picture of another person and aim at 100% resemblance but the exploration of different techniques that are suitable for modern portraits.

As a result, similarities with living persons are more or less accidental. 😉

Nevertheless, if one wants to depict a certain person in a modern style portrait, then it is of utmost importance that the eye area is correct and leads to a recognition effect.

Tree Explosion – Acrylic Painting

Tree Explosion – Acrylic Painting

This painting has been through a lot of revisions. During one of my art classes I tried to apply a new technique but missed one small detail. So, things did not work out as planned and I had to keep working with what I had.

Nevertheless, I am quite happy with the result. A tree that resembles an explosion or fireworks, flying towards the sky, thriving outward with force in light and dark shades, with intermittent notions of purple fruits. with a beautiful sunset in the background. I really like the color combination in the background – the green meadow, the different nuances of yellow reminding me of beautiful sunsets and the nuances of blue in the sky.

Tree Explosion



upward we go



with force we fly

do we know where to?



beauty of the moment

that’s what counts.


You can buy art prints, posters and greeting cards here. The original will be available for sale after the next exhibition.

Color Compositions

Where has the time gone since my last post? Nearly a month has passed without any blog posts!

In February I attended the next intensive class of my art study. We produced tons of drawings and sketches in these five days! Few of them are suitable for posting but I still wanted to give you a few glimpses.

One interesting exercise was to produce a color composition or color analysis from a picture. This means to paint an abstract picture with geometric figures that represent the colors and their individual size of the original picture. At first that was not so easy.

Later when we got more skilled in the technique we also painted some color compositions without a picture as starter. Here are two examples of the latter kind:

Color Composition

Color Composition 2

Flow 2

Here is the sister of the last painting. This too is a three-tone process painting in acrylics. Like the first one, it started out as a fantasy landscape with the moon rising, but it might now be all kinds of things to the viewer. What do YOU see in it?

Flow 2
Yeah – I have reached the goal of 30 paintings, but not in the time frame that I had planned. Too many other things were going on, including my exhibition in Vienna. A post about the exhibition is still waiting to be written. AND – the next 30in30 challenge is just around the corner. Stay tuned!

Flow 1

This acrylic painting is very different from the previous 30in30 series.

When I prepared for a little painting class with children, I copied several easy abstracts from a book as inspirations. One of the obviously inspired me too, because I suddenly saw a landscape in it and then even dreamed about it. That’s how it started. It became a real process painting in three tones.

When a friend saw the nearly finished painting, she saw a dancing woman in it. That’s when I decided not to call a fantasy landscape with a sunrise (my starting point) but name it “Flow no. 1”.

Flow 1
I am curious to know what YOU see in it. You can tell me in the comment section below.

Informalist Pastels

Informalist Pastels @LKS

A short while ago, I took my first class at Leonardo Kunstakademie in Mattsee, near Salzburg.

My first course was about painting informalist pastels. Informalism means the sujet is not derived from any objects. Some call it abstract which is not quite correct because abstract comes from abstractae (lat.) which means reducing or subtracting from something, so there has to be an object as the starting point, while the art informel (fr.) means painting something that is not based on an existing object.

The instructor war Elfriede Kotrba, the administrator of the Leonardo Kunstakademie. Just after the first day I felt that I had learned so much in one day, that the course has already paid off. Even though I had painted with pastels in the past, I now realized that I had used too much pigment and could achieve the same with much less. We also learned several interesting techniques where pastel was combined with other materials.

Paint & Smile

Last week I discovered an unusual painting course in Linz, Upper Austria. I was able to participate one evening and get to know it a little bit. Friedrich Wurm developed a concept called “Paint and Smile. He offers four different painting techniques that are also suitable for beginners. The topic of this evening was “Adventures in your head”.

Here is my result of this creativity evening. I was amazed myself what we were able to achieve with simple and unconventional methods.
Dancing Angel


The draft for this painting was done a long time ago. Several other paintings were studies in preparation for this one. Actually, this is not yet it. – I want to divide it on three canvases. This means I am still preparing for the ‘real’ one. This one was done with watercolor but the final one will probably be done with acrylic.
50 x 40 cm
Watercolor on paper


Perichoresis is a theological expression that describes an aspect of the trinity. Many years ago, I heard a sermon on this topic and the speaker tried to describe it as a form of dance, combining harmony, individualism and yet perfect consideration for each other. This was in the back of my mind when I painted this picture:
30 x 40 cm
Acrylic on paper