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A Guide to Oil Paintings Pricing.

Updated: Mar 29

Oil paintings are high in demand because of their perfection and durability. Most artists and collectors use their emotions when pricing an oil painting, actually, pricing an artwork with emotions and not by deep evaluation of the art piece is a recipe for disaster. It is essential to put your emotions aside when pricing a painting.


Here are the most important guidelines for pricing an oil painting:




Evaluate the painting integrity.

These paintings have been the prime center of art in history for hundreds of years. Buying a piece of art is not just for aesthetic purposes, some art pieces have the potential to be a good investment.

Art is a very unique asset; besides stocks and bonds, investors think about art as a perfect way to diversify their investment portfolio.

The First to consider is the condition of the artwork, check the Painting canvas, the fabric is linen or cotton? is it in good condition? Linen is the canvas of choice for artists who want their paintings to stand the test of time.


If the painting is large, then linen should be the surface of choice, as it’s less likely to dip in the center after a long time. For rigorous painting techniques, linen for sure is the tougher choice.


Do not buy oil painting on paper if you want your masterpiece to stay in good condition for a long time.

Having a close look at the surface of the oil painting is a must, to make sure that there are no cracks, a professional artist's practice would adjust the percent of oils in the successive paint layers, a cracked oil painting layer is a red flag, "a wrong technique was used to create the oil painting".



The Date of Creation.

Every art movement is a wave, The forerunner groundbreaking pioneers, the origin of the avant-garde art movement, then comes the second generation's validation of the ideas of the pioneers and spreading the wave into the art community.


After a period of time, the purity of the art movement starts to fade and turn into a precursor from which new ideas and concepts start to develop.


For example, the abstraction wave evoked by theosophical society in the early 20th century started with the groundbreaking works of its pioneers Hilma Af Klimt, Wassily Kandinsky, and Piet Mondrian. After the three pioneers, the second generation represented by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning...etc.


Knowing the creation date of an oil painting is important because it simply enables the viewer to classify the piece of art within the waves of art history, in its time, was it an original work of a pioneer artist or a follower?


Evaluate the uniqueness Of the Painting.

The demand and supply rules work here too, check the artist portfolio, an artist portfolio with dozens of paintings that are similar in terms of subject, color, or style, chances for any of these paintings to rise in value are absent.

Scarcity indeed equals value. The versatility of the artist's creations is crucial to limit the supply and increase the demand for his artworks.


Check the Artist's portfolio.

The artist's ability to deliver his message to the public, to use his tools in a characteristic distinguishable way, and to interact with the community emphasizes his artwork's chances to be a good investment.


Before pricing an original painting have a close look at the artist's portfolio and inspect the signature of the artist on the canvas.


In the artist's portfolio, you can see the development of the artist's career through time.

Does the artist have the potential to rise in value? The versatility of the artist's portfolio in terms of style (Realism, impressionism, expressionism ….), techniques, and subjects (landscapes, still life, figurative....) indicates the professionalism of the artist, otherwise, the last thing collectors want to do is buying a hobbyist painting.


Evaluate The Artist's Techniques.

The quality of the artist’s brushwork … allows the spectator to recreate how the artist moved the brush and applied paints to get the artwork out to light.

Oil paintings are created sometimes in one layer of paint or usually in overlapping multi-layer of paint.

An artist needs to follow the Fat over Lean rule to end up with high-durability oil paintings, by looking closely at the texture of the painting you can make sure there are no cracks in the top layers of the oil painting.


Evaluate the composition of the painting.

The composition of an oil painting is the most important aspect in the pricing process; indeed, we start with composition and end with composition.

The artist can skip using a wide palette of colors or remarkable techniques and still can produce a masterpiece, but the artist cannot skip creating a good composition, otherwise, a painting with poor composition is worthless.

A good composition is one where the artist controls the movement of the viewer's eye, the utilization of the canvas two-dimensional space simply emphasizes the control of the artist over his tools.

Good composition could be done by a number of means, such as reinforcing the focal point with the Rule of Thirds, implied lines, the contrast of value, and selective color saturation.


How Can You Tell If an Oil Painting Is Original?

The word original has many different interpretations. Some would say that to be original is to do something that has never been done before, Others might think of the original as being the first presentation or the unveiling.


To be original is relative, some paintings are original in introducing a new style, composition, color tones, techniques or even being non-subjective like Hilma Af Klint's abstract paintings.


The artist's style.

Creating art in a remarkably distinguishable way so the viewer knows the artist's identity even without Looking at the signature, is a step forward in creating original art.

The artist's style includes the steps the artist took to create the artwork, whether it was classical multilayered artwork or an impression with a single layer of thick paint on the canvas.

The Artist's painting style also includes the color, was it realistic tones or fictional tones out of the realistic spectra, don't mention the skill and time required to establish this style.


The artist's tools.

The tools the artist used to apply the paint on the surface of the canvas tell everything, actually, the brushstrokes on the canvas tell the pathways the artist walks through to get the artwork out from none to existence, any new technique the artist use is considered a step forward.

Creating an artwork that is purely innovative in all its aspects is not easy. but any step forward out of the Art world boundaries is considered to be an original step.


Conclusion: The more you watch exhibited artworks, the better prepared you will be when it is time to decide on a retail price for an oil painting.





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