Aftermath. What is the value of a painting that you love?

So, last Saturday was Art in the Park, which I was anticipating in my previous post.  The weather “cooperated” beautifully.  I chose this unfinished oil painting on paper (9×12) to offer for my (free) raffle.

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

You might remember Grey-eyed cat as one I painted during the Art in Action event last April.  The raffle rules were, to be eligible to enter, you had to answer this question, “What medium did I say in my blog I tried last week for the first time?”  The answer was on my website,  so anybody could look it up on their smart phone.  A few did.  A few guessed (wrong).  A few didn’t bother with that detail.  One little girl was so determined to win the painting that she got her mom to take her home to look it up on their computer.  I’m happy to report that her extra effort was rewarded!  Congrats to Rebecca; I know my Grey-eyed Cat will have a loving forever home.

My tent was situated across the path from the Entertainment:  three musicians playing folk songs together and performing solo.  I had brought my plein air painting gear, so I set up and painted a scene of the musicians.  Mind you, the only one who stayed in one position for any length of time was the middle one, Michelle.  It was a test of my memory and experience.

The AITP Musicians

The AITP Musicians

The aftermath of this painting was a little weird.  The next day, or maybe it was later Saturday night, Michelle posted on Facebook that she wanted to buy the painting and asked the price.  I replied, on Facebook, that I wanted her to have it, but we should discuss it privately, via email.  Unbeknownst to me, she jumped to the conclusion that I was going to give her the painting and spread that all over Facebook.  Meanwhile I tried to find out what she would be comfortable paying, and I thought we had reached a resolution (half the usual price, payable over five months), but she later backed out, saying she couldn’t afford it.  No counter, no hint as to what she could afford, so I guess her original offer to buy was impulsive.  It just makes me sad –after being so happy.  I don’t mind giving a painting away to a friend who appreciates it, but I feel that a stranger who is not  willing to put up some bucks does not really value it.

What is the value of a painting anyway?   To the artist, a painting’s value has little to do with “market” value.   [I’m not talking about “investment” grade paintings here–a subject absurdly foreign to the experience of most living artists.]  The paltry few hundreds of dollars on a painting’s price tag doesn’t go far toward covering an artist’s costs when you take into account the years of learning and practicing.  A painting is created with joy, and you could say once created, it has no further value to the artist.  It becomes the remembrance of joy.  Sure, it could be exhibited, perhaps win an award, enhancing the artist’s reputation, etc.  None of this has anything to do with a “market” value for a painting.

I had a similar inquiry recently from the exhibit of my paintings at the Cancer Center–a patient would have bought a particular painting if the price I quoted was within his/her expectations.  I guess it wasn’t, even though I knocked a hundred off the usual price.  I can imagine the patient’s disappointment to learn that the painting was not “affordable”.  But why not?  Why not negotiate with the artist, try an installment plan?  What is it about paintings that they are so little valued, even when loved passionately?

Before I started making my own paintings, I bought other people’s paintings.  I remember how hard it was, especially in the beginning, to screw up the courage to spend hundreds of dollars on a painting that I fell in love with.  When you consider how much can be spent on a restaurant dinner these days, isn’t it ridiculous to expect a painting, which lasts forever, to be cheaper than a gourmet meal for two couples?  I never regretted what I paid for paintings, or for the cost of framing them (usually more than the painting!).  But that is hindsight.  How to convey this perspective of value to someone who has never before thought about paying for a painting?  I have no clue.

To offset that glum discussion, I want you to see two paintings from the Monday group, last week and this week.  Last week, we asked my daughter to pose clothed in Dee’s garden, and we enjoyed the experience of working from the clothed model so much that we had Robbie keep his clothes on yesterday:






This weekend I am off to Vermont for a weekend of plein air painting in the Upper Valley, with Sharon Allen and others.  The result should be a bunch of new paintings to love.  And value, perhaps.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email:  One painting still at the Boston Arboretum.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!


2 responses to “Aftermath. What is the value of a painting that you love?

  1. I think unknowing people feel that the painting came from ‘nowhere’ and anyway we do it because we love it. Also they might think they are doing us a favour by giving positive feedback as if that is what we need more than money. Some of the compliments I receive leave me with that feeling especially. I love the angles and the cool ease of the painting in the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So much positive feedback sounds perfunctory, as if the giver feels he/she must say something, and of course, what he/she says must be complimentary. Imagine how we artists would feel if an average onlooker started criticizing our technique! Ah, that actually has happened, but mostly by children.