Prices for paper vs canvas and panel

Artyczar

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Isn't interesting that prices for works on paper are traditionally less expensive than wok on canvas and panels? I understand the materials can frequently cost much, much less, but what about the time that can go into the process? I was just wondering what people think about this.

I too price my work on paper at about half the cost as my oil paintings. Sometimes I think about it is all because a lot of the work I do on paper takes me just as long and sometimes longer, but people would never expect to pay the same amounts. So, I would never price them up.

but, I was thinking...what about artists that only work on paper. I was thinking about artists like SLG. And many other artists I know--they work solely on paper/with paper. It's an interesting, subjective, and for some, an arbitrary viewpoint.
 
You want an expensive support, try pricing sheet copper. :giggle: I do love the way the resulting painting looks though.
 
It is strange that the support matters so much when one sees watercolours and drawings on paper that have aged better than many oils.

I love painting on oil paper, the paint glides on very easily, it doesn't seep through the paper and it's far easier to store and transport than a fixed canvas and if one puts it on a backing I can't tell the difference. Not sure i should post this in your thread Arty, but below is a relatively quick study of Millet's - The Gleaners on oil paper, I doubt there is such a discernable difference.
20200820_002841.jpg
 
And also, good quality 100% cotton watercolor papers do not come cheap...
 
Yes. My one studio partner used to always suggest that I spent almost nothing on my drawings/paintings. He had no idea how expensive good paper can be... or gold leaf... even artificial gold leaf... to say nothing about pastels! A single small stick of Rembrandt can run over $4.00 while Sennelier or Schmincke may cost upwards of $7.00. This doesn't even touch upon framing.
 
And in any case I think the price of the materials in painting/drawing is generally a tiny part of the price of the art work. In most cases probably neglectible.
When not you are seriously underpaying your own time and effort.
I am not a professional artist, but looking at some works I've shown here, about a4 size, nothing too fancy, they take maybe one or two hours.
Even when using top notch materials and taking a modest hourly rate, materialcost is not really a factor.
If that is the case with such pretty quick watercolors it certainly goes for those elaborate works you have shown, that take many days to complete.
 
I love the Gleaners. One of my favorites.

I have purchased a few oil painting papers but have not yet used them. They are a bit expensive, and yes, framing is a lot more expensive than canvas, especially the way I personally prefer to frame my work on paper.

I also like to prime my canvases with a clear acrylic polymer to take a lot of the tooth out of the canvas so it acts a little bit more like paper. I sometimes wish canvas came in a hot press the way paper comes. I don't like the roughness so much and prefer the glide of the paint, which is why I also like gessoboard and panel.

I feel I can "justify" asking higher prices, or rather equal prices to oil paintings that are on gessoboard and panel. It's so weird, isn't it? It never made much sense to me. But that's what collectors expect, so there's not much I can do. I think the only way around it is when an artist works exclusively on paper. I think about watercolor artists like Kim McCarty and artists of this caliber/type.
 
And in any case I think the price of the materials in painting/drawing is generally a tiny part of the price of the art work. In most cases probably neglectible.
That's true - if you sell every painting you make. But you might go thru four or five supports before you create a "keeper". And you could easily have 20-50-xx unsold paintings in the closet. So for a sold painting the costs of materials may be negligible but for unsold or abandon paintings it's not. What is the difference in cost amung 20 unsold paintings on paper vs linen vs hardboard? There are significant differences.

I never painted on paper but I have made many paintings on canvas, mdf, hardboard and Yupo. The difference in costs go beyond the initial purchase. My 200+ 30"x40" paintings on yupo occupy a space 31"x41"x3". The other paintings fill up a room! There are also big differences in framing and shipping costs as well.

The perception in the public mind is that paintings made on paper are inferior stems from:
Nearly everyone from kindergarten on up having made "paintings" on paper. Whereas few have made paintings on stretched linen with oil paints. Paintings on paper tend to be smaller and Museums tend to favor large works on canvas. Paper is perceived as fragile, less archival, and cheaper to produce -- put together on the dining room table from materials bought at the dime store whereas oil paintings require a commitment - require expensive paints and brushes, an easel, a studio and years of training.
 
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For better or worse, the perceptions of the audience/collectors are the primary factor in establishing the monetary value of a work of art. Oil on canvas or wood panel generally demands a higher sale price than acrylic due to the perceived archival nature of oils. After all, we have plenty of oil paintings dating back to the Renaissance while acrylic has yet to make it past 100 years. Of course, if we are speaking of Warhol or James Rosenquist the issue of the medium employed is of little importance.

Historically, watercolors, encaustic, and fresco are all far older. Watercolors can be found in ancient Egyptian, Persian, Indian, and later, Medieval manuscripts. Watercolor remained a popular medium in the West from the Middle-Ages through the present. But the support... generally paper... is imagined as being more fragile, and there is also the sensitivity to light and the limitation of scale. Watercolors are generally framed under glass and placed away from exposure to light... or even stored away much of the time.

Fresco dates back even further... but is not a medium that allows for transfer of ownership. One of the prime motivations in the development of oil painting on canvas in Renaissance Italy was to create an alternative to fresco paintings which were permanent in a given setting... and egg tempera which did not frequently allow for larger-scale paintings. The Venetians strove to compete with the huge fresco paintings of the Florentines and Romans... but were confronted with the humidity and flooding of Venice which caused damage to the plaster walls. Large egg tempera paintings, such as Botticelli's Birth of Venus or Primavera, were both fragile and incredibly heavy and not easily moved.

Pastel as a medium maintains the original freshness of color better than even oil paints... but one must worry about the archival quality and fragility of the paper support. Pastel dates back to the Renaissance and fully worked-up pastel paintings date back to the early 1700s. Pastels are generally framed under glass which increases the cost.

Ultimately, oil paintings offer the best option for the production of large paintings that can be transferred easily from owner to owner and that can be hung without a huge expense as trophies in the owner's home.

But are any of these issues of prime concern to an artist in selecting him or her medium/media? A print-maker might consider the ability to reach a larger audience... but how valid is this with the accessibility of photographic reproductions? As an artist working extensively in pastel and acrylic, I simply like the look of the media and I especially like the manner in which pastel allows for a merger of drawing and painting. I understand the inherent fragility of the medium... but this did not dissuade Degas, Redon, or Toulouse Lautrec, among others.
 
I have never considered serious works on paper to be cheaply made with dime store paints and non-archival paper, especially when the media is pretty much listed with the titles of works stating the paper to be Arches or 100% cotton rag, etc. What serious artist would be using cheap watercolor paint after all that? If you're not strictly a work-on-paper artist, then you have a larger studio anyway with an easel. And what does your training level have to do with what media you use? I am not sure about the collectors' perspectives here. Real collectors know what they're buying and are also always welcome to ask questions. I've had lots of questions asked of me on why one work was one price and another was different. For me, different prices have always been about the media (or size, of course), but that doesn't mean I think it's necessarily right, which is why I decided to make this thread. I think it's kind of lame (in many cases). And Bongo does point out that many preliminary pieces can be gone through before you get a "keeper" with either paper or canvas. It is easier to paint over canvas than paper though. Make enough mistakes on paper, and you have to scrap it.
 
I am relatively new to the watercolor medium, and the price of 100% cotton paper intimidated me in the beginning; the feeling I was not yet good enough for such an expensive paper.
Tried first some pulp papers. I must say the advice I got (and ignored:rolleyes:) was right, buy the good paper, it makes ALL the difference in your learning curve, it'd argue way more important than artist grade paint or fancy brushes.
So now I have three different kinds of cotton paper lying around, the block of non cotton is also being put to good use, it is not thàt bad if you limit yourself to single washes, and don't go crazy with the amount of water, so useful for stuff like ink & wash.
 
When I ran a gallery, I had one artist who was into organic, non-toxic materials early on. He used non-pulp non-bleached paper and non-toxic pigments and binders (Gum Arabic?). His paintings were among the best and most unabashedly gorgeous paintings I ever sold... and unfortunately, he was also among the few artists that I didn't sell a single painting by. Three other artists that I was unable to sell were overpriced IMO considering the market and their track/sales record. I had a couple of potential buyers express that they were wary of paint on paper.

Honestly... unless you are moving into the use of Gold or Palladium leaf or casting in bronze or carving in marble, I don't see a huge differentiation in cost between media. There's probably much more of a difference when you are speaking of scale. Paper can be cheap or quite a bit more expensive than canvas depending on the quality and thickness. I am down to my last one of 2 paintings worth of paper in the supply I've been using so I'm looking at Lenox Cotton Drawing paper that comes in rolls of 60" x 20 yards at 250 gsm weight for $440.00. I used Lenox a lot in art school and liked it a good deal, but I'll pick up a few single sheets and play around with the various media I use to see how I like it for what I'm doing now. 20 yards would equal 6 or 7 paintings at my usual scale meaning the paper for a single painting would run around $65-$75.

Pastels and Conte can be equally expensive. You can get cheap student grade pastels for $15 or $20 for a box of 30... but these are crappy and grainy... full of impurities. Prismacolor New Pastels are hard and rather inexpensive. I used these extensively for final details. Rembrandt pastels are medium-soft and run around $4.50 for a single stick. Schmincke & Sennelier frequently run over $5 or even $6 or $7 for a single stick.

Taking all the materials into consideration, the material costs of one of my 45x80" paintings is probably around $200. The cost of my studio rent, insurance, and utilities is likely more for the time needed to complete a single painting. All of these costs are but a small fraction of the price of one of my paintings.
 

When I ran a gallery, I had one artist who was into organic, non-toxic materials early on. He used non-pulp non-bleached paper and non-toxic pigments and binders (Gum Arabic?). His paintings were among the best and most unabashedly gorgeous paintings I ever sold... and unfortunately, he was also among the few artists that I didn't sell a single painting by. Three other artists that I was unable to sell were overpriced IMO considering the market and their track/sales record. I had a couple of potential buyers express that they were wary of paint on paper.

Honestly... unless you are moving into the use of Gold or Palladium leaf or casting in bronze or carving in marble, I don't see a huge differentiation in cost between media. There's probably much more of a difference when you are speaking of scale. Paper can be cheap or quite a bit more expensive than canvas depending on the quality and thickness. I am down to my last one of 2 paintings worth of paper in the supply I've been using so I'm looking at Lenox Cotton Drawing paper that comes in rolls of 60" x 20 yards at 250 gsm weight for $440.00. I used Lenox a lot in art school and liked it a good deal, but I'll pick up a few single sheets and play around with the various media I use to see how I like it for what I'm doing now. 20 yards would equal 6 or 7 paintings at my usual scale meaning the paper for a single painting would run around $65-$75.

Pastels and Conte can be equally expensive. You can get cheap student grade pastels for $15 or $20 for a box of 30... but these are crappy and grainy... full of impurities. Prismacolor New Pastels are hard and rather inexpensive. I used these extensively for final details. Rembrandt pastels are medium-soft and run around $4.50 for a single stick. Schmincke & Sennelier frequently run over $5 or even $6 or $7 for a single stick.

Taking all the materials into consideration, the material costs of one of my 45x80" paintings is probably around $200. The cost of my studio rent, insurance, and utilities is likely more for the time needed to complete a single painting. All of these costs are but a small fraction of the price of one of my paintings.
 
Taking all the materials into consideration, the material costs of one of my 45x80" paintings is probably around $200.
What if you take into consideration how long it takes you to complete a painting? If it costs $200 to make a painting and you're cranking out one a day - pretty soon we're talking about real money. If it takes you a month or two or three - then not so much.

Thinking of one artist I know that lives frugally on income from his paintings alone -- has (many) hundreds of paintings laying around. He takes boxes of paintings to his gallerists, who'll chose three or four to display, of which maybe one might sell in a month... Those numbers and ratios vary considerably depending on the economy, fickle public, etc. but the bottom line is although being an exceptional artist with good representation, he must paint xxx for every painting sold, and keep costs in line i.e. has to make his own frames etc. otherwise he won't make it.
 
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