Seven Tips for Buying Original Paintings

What are you going to put on those walls? – Seven considerations when buying an original painting.

Homes and offices are places we spend a lot of our life. We want and need them to serve us well. The walls and what we put on those walls are a big part of being in that space. At some point many of us feel we are ready to add a piece or two of original art work. But where do we begin?

I often get asked for advice about what to consider when buying original paintings. This is not an easy position to be in as an artist. However, I get that you want to know that you are making a good decision. Original work can be an expensive purchase and I appreciate that you want to make sure you are making the best choice. So here are my seven considerations for when you are buying an original painting.

1. Buy what you love. Yes, a painting can be considered an investment but that should not be the primary reason it is enhancing your walls. Many times paintings do substantially increase in value but there is always a possibility that they won’t. When considering the purchase of an original painting, I want you to imagine being able to enjoy the work for the rest of your life. You just can’t take your eyes off it!

2. Think about where the painting is going to “live.” What room will it be in? What will it add to this room? What purpose is the painting going to serve? For example, I often suggest a seascape on a wall where I feel the room needs opening up or some movement. Conversely, I will suggest a dense forest painting on a wall that needs more of a feeling of warmth or privacy. However, sometimes we just fall in love with a work and will create or organize a room or space to enjoy its company – which takes us back to consideration number one.

3. Stick to your budget with creative vigor. No one needs to be art poor. However, there is usually a way to have a few carefully chosen original pieces in your possession. First, decide on your budget. Next decide if you need to save for your painting or if you are ready to purchase now. If you are saving for an original piece, can you buy a card or a small print of the artist’s work to help focus your intention? This is a great way to support an artist and a successful strategy to eventually being able to purchase an original painting. I now have collectors of my work that started in this very way. Also, if there is a specific painting you just can’t live without but it is beyond your current budget – ask about purchasing on lay-away. I have done this with many buyers on what I call a three-payment-lay-away-plan. The buyer makes 3 equal payments on pre-agreed dates and when the final payment is made they take the painting home. Finally, consider making the artist a fair offer within your budget. Pricing is of art work partially subjective and many factors are taken into consideration. I have been known to accept a reasonable offer below a ticket price simply because I knew the work was going to be appreciated. Often, I make a counter offer that adds value without reducing the price significantly such as delivering and helping to hang the painting or paying for part of the shipping costs. Or I will add in my art book or calendar that also features the work. I have even included a magazine where a painting the buyer was interested in purchasing was on the front cover. You may even want to remember to ask if your work has been featured anywhere. These are fun additions for both buyer and the artist.

4. Ask to take the painting home on trial. Sometimes it is just too hard to decide if a painting is right for your home or office space. You are almost sure but you need to “see.” Many artists and galleries will let you take a painting home on trial for a few days. You pay for the painting by cheque or by leaving credit information and it is not processed unless you go through with the sale. Further, with online purchases of my original paintings I offer a 30 day satisfaction guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase it will be fully refunded when, at the buyer’s expense, the painting is returned to me unharmed within 30 days.

5. Know the quality of what you are buying. By this I mean the physical quality of the products used to create the painting. For example, I use premium quality canvas or mounted boards and good quality water-miscible oil paints. Sometimes artists, out of necessity, will use economy grade or poor quality materials such as much appreciated Canadian artist Emily Carr (December 13, 1871 – March 2, 1945). If it is not obvious what was used – ask. A painting, on good quality material and using good paint, should offer more than one life time of enjoyment. However, poor quality products can be fragile and a painting will need extra care for preservation. You still may choose to buy it but it is best to know ahead of time the quality of the materials used.

6. Take your time. Be prepared to wait for “your painting.” I have often told this to patrons of my work. It has sometimes taken months and even years until “their painting” was painted. The deep smile of knowing “this is the one” is worth the wait. Of course some buyers become collectors and they have purchased a handful of paintings. For some reason it seems to get easier after the first purchase.

7. If you don’t see exactly what you want ask about commissioning a piece. I have only one word of caution. Do not ask the artist to paint something just like the one that is for sale only in colours to match your couch. I once had a buyer do this and my response was “have you considered buying a new couch to go with the painting?” Also, not all artists do commissioned work. This is always a good first question to ask before making a request. Sometimes you may be looking for a larger or smaller piece than what is being exhibited and the artist will have what you are looking for in their inventory. Ask for what you want because you just might be able to get it.

So there you have it. Now, what are you going to put on those walls?

Terrill Welch’s work can be viewed and purchased through several venues. These listings are provide for your convenience.


ArtWork Archive original paintings and acrylic sketches currently available.


Oceanwood Inn –  STUDY OF BLUE, opened June 30, 2011 and closed July 27, 2011, Mayne Island. As of February 2012, only 4 of the 15 paintings shown are still available for purchase.

Working in progress BLOG –

Creative Potager – first place new work is unveiled. Subscribe to stay current.


If desired, original work  can often be purchased directly from Terrill Welch. Please contact Terrill for personalized service.

2 thoughts on “Seven Tips for Buying Original Paintings

  1. Great advice, particularly rule number 1. Personally, I never intend to sell anything I acquire, but so many people fall into the “how much is it worth” trap when it comes to art it is a common question.

Leave a Reply