On Selling My Paintings! 

Scenic Route 2014 oil on canvas 60 x 48 inches  

I have several avenues through which I get customers who buy my paintings: word of mouth, my personal website (trixiepitts.com), my blog, art consultants who pitch my work to corporate customers, the Art Students League, as well as through other websites like ArtSlant.  Customers have also found me through Pinterest and just Googling abstract painters in NYC.  

Each experience is different.  Surprisingly, lots of people buy paintings without ever seeing them in person.  I recently sent one to a woman in Washington State and another to a man in Pennsylvania.  If the buyer is in NYC, I make arrangements for them to come to my apartment, because my shared studio space is not the right environment to conduct business, because it disrupts the other painters, and there is not enough space to unfurl the canvases.  Everyone who comes to my place presumably has some idea about abstract painting and some interest in my work as well as a pretty clear idea of the prices.  Even with all that as a given, it is amazing how differently people act when faced with the decisions of what and if to buy.

Generally, people have no concept of how much work it takes just to prepare for their visit.  Depending on the number of canvases they want to see, how many of those are still available and where they are being kept, it can be quite an effort.  First, I have to locate the canvases, stretch a couple, and prepare the others to easily display. Next I update the price list and prepare an invoice and letter of authenticity, anticipating a smooth transaction.

On the day the customer comes, I stay home from the studio and miss a day’s painting opportunity.  It’s all part of the process and I accept that.  Usually people, if they make the effort to come, they come to buy.  If that is the case, it is very enjoyable helping them decide which painting is best for their space.  It is so nice to have total strangers valuing my work.  Some customers though seem to have no shame.  One woman came and I showed her a dozen paintings she had requested to see.  She hummed and hawed and then asked if she could bring her husband back another day.  That was fine and back they came.  Then they both hummed and hawed, unable to decide for at least an hour.  She then asked if she could come back again with her sister.  I made arrangements.  She was the only one so far that ended up not buying anything!  Contrast this with the CFO of a major company that had viewed my website extensively, knew what he wanted and he and his wife deliberated on the spot between two canvases, then bought one and hauled it off!  Another woman flew from upstate for the night just to see my paintings.  She bought two!

A few days ago I had a woman come to see one painting in particular.  She said she had seen it on Pinterest and SaatchiArt.  I went through my whole prep routine and had it and one other she mentioned stretched and ready to see.  She came in and was very polite and seemed to genuinely like the painting.  I offered to unroll a couple others, but she really was only interested in this one particular one.  Then it started:  “I’m not sure if it will fit the space.”  “I don’t know if my husband will like it.”  Etc., etc.  Okay, so we made arrangements for her to come back another day with her husband.  That was today.  It was horrible!

She was polite and nice again and still seemed to love the painting and appreciate it.  The husband on the other hand was vile.  He was so rude that when they left, I truly felt violated.  It is hard to describe what it is like to be showing someone a painting that you put your heart and soul into and they stand there and scowl and don’t say anything nice to you at all.  I don’t care how much they hate the painting, what about basic civility.  Couldn’t he have said something like, “I can see it is well done but it is just not what I like.” or “Tell me about your process.” or “How long have you been painting?” Something.  I didn’t search these people out.  I am not some sort of obnoxious door-to-door salesperson.  They sought me out.  They came to me.  It was horrible. 

Showing my paintings, which are a piece of me, part of me literally that I got in touch with and transferred to the canvas.  To be treated in such an offensive manner feels kind of like standing there naked in front of an abuser.  At some point I felt emboldened by his rudeness.  I offered why I think it is such a good painting and frankly quite exceptional.  I let them know it had won two art prizes.  Still nothing.  All he said when she asked him what he thought was, “Get it if you like it” and that he didn’t think it would fit in their car.  Nothing to me.  

They left.  Not even any attempt to say thank you for sharing, for taking the time.  Nothing.  I escorted them to the door.  She said good-bye.  He just walked out.  Wow!  I almost cried when they left, I felt so violated.  

Well, believe it or not, they came back and he was civil and they bought one of my favorite paintings.  

© Trixie Pitts 2009