6. Painting Decorative paintings

When everything else fails... So how do you do formula paintings, and what are the formulas that always sell? In the business we call these 'potboilers' and the problem is not in painting them it is disguising them sufficiently so they seem fresh and new, one off originals instead of formula paintings.

 There are of course certain things that have universal appeal and I will show you two variations of them in this lesson. Understand however, this universality needs to be tweaked and adapted depending on the country or other demographics, like your target audience. It is a fact, for instance, that folk in the US and Europe will appreciate more colorful paintings than those living in South Africa or Australia who, no doubt due to an abundance of color and light and the absence of winter grays, appreciate that which they don't get to see a lot ... the more subdued hues. 

Here is our first example ... a girl frolicking in a surf on a hot summers day and pelican investigates. A universal desire.

The secret of selling this type of painting is to make it decorative. In other words a fashion item as well as the remembrance of some pleasing experience. To do this I have deliberately made it a 'high key' painting. In other words it has mostly light airy colors - though I do make sure the areas of contrast are there and catch the eye.

So the secret here is mostly presentation. A decent frame matched to the painting in a decorative and unassuming manner (that way it will fit most homes). The painting is not designed to stop people in their tracks, but to create an atmosphere wherein folk are comfortable and relaxed. 

To produce this type of painting (above) you will need a basic understanding of the elements of waves and reflections and atmosphere, but it is fairly rudimentary and is well addressed in the lessons so far. Then you will need a camera or sketch pad and a few summer days to sit around the beach ... of course that's the tough part! 

Another formula that seems to have a universal appeal is the one with wrought iron fences, balustrades etc. and flowers. In my variation it is best if the wrought iron is painted white and the flowers are climbing roses or suchlike. An abundance of vegetation is also helpful. Again summer and high tones are well placed but make sure there are areas of deep contrast that draw the eye. If you add small children and romantic remembrances of childhood then extra appeal can be added and the clientele and focus groups will not doubt appreciate the effort.

 And so in this scenario I have utilized in my 'beauty and the beast' work that you see below. I deliberately evoked the summer Mediterranean feel so as to counterpoint the horrible 'beast'. This of course would prevent otherwise good sales, but then again - is fame and fortune worth all that? In the marketplace this is a dollar each way painting. There could be someone our there who might like both elements. 

Well, these paintings are but two variations on good and tested formulas that may make you a fortune if you need one. I have maybe ten other tried and successful 'themes'. 

Seriously though folks, if you want to paint for fame and fortune, forget it. I have no personal fortune but I am usually welcomed wherever I go and I get countless invitations to address folk, talk and demonstrate my wares. I can never retire, my financial stability relies not on what I saved but what I may be capable of doing tomorrow. Otherwise I am quite happy with the paintings above. I am not raising the bar so you might be dissuaded from even trying some painting formula, rather you MUST do it to learn the basics. I am only warning you against complacency, repetition and false success.

So I no longer paint for the lowest common denominator, though when I was stuck in Brussels, with no money ...


GO TO ... Advanced lessons

 OR ... back to lesson list