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why are paintings so expensive?

I’m often asked why artwork is so expensive. I’m not talking about multi-million dollar Van Gogh “Irises” expensive here. I mean, like, $500-$3000 for a stretched canvas piece. (Stuff on paper is different)

I’ll tell you why.

Unless you’re REALLY successful (which most people, including me, are not… yet) and sell work for $25Gs or more per piece, you can’t afford an assistant or two. You have to do all of the legwork and prep yo’ self. That means acquiring (or building) stretcher bars, which costs either good sums of money or time. You have to assemble those bars into the shape of your canvas, which can take hours if the piece is large. Then, you have to stretch the actual canvas over these assembled stretcher bars. Follow this with priming (multiple layers of primer, gesso in my case), sand, prime, then wait.

Then, and only then, can you even begin to paint, and at that point you’re 4 to 8 hours into the painting and probably at least $100 into materials. This doesn’t include painting time and painting material costs, both of which can be staggering.

I’m not trying to bitch here, if that seems like what I’m doing. I’m just answering that, sometimes annoying, question.

So that’s why. However, given the labor and cost, I wouldn’t trade the investment for anything. I can’t wait to paint this weekend and get my shit back on track.

It’s time to start doing what I love again, and somehow understand why I ever loved it in the first place.


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