Oil Paintings command better sales than Watercolours?

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Oil Paintings command better sales than Watercolours?

Is this true?

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I have just sold five watercolour paintings in a small commercial art gallery in Coventry in the west Midlands. Three of them sold in the first 48 hours of the opening of the exhibition. None of them sold for less than £375. All of them were seen unexpectedly and they who were attracted by them, bought them on impulse. Furthermore, until covid struck, I was selling exclusively watercolours in popup shows in village halls. One buyer remarked that quality will always out. So why do well known commercial art galleries in London and the Cotswolds persist in turning down the very same paintings on the grounds that no matter how much they like them, they're reluctant to take them on because it is their view that the buying public always prefer oils?


I also see - and sadly it's a rare occurrence - wonderful watercolours, worthy of the name, not aping the alleged masters, living or dead, which are truly inspirational. And yes, I do actually mean that they inspire me to go out and paint with added enthusiasm.

I then go go to watercolour societies and see photographs ( er... no, actually watercolours which are indistinguishable from photographs or else, paintings which look like dull greetings cards-in-waiting. Endless boats, endless rainy streets in London, endless dreadful portraits, endless rubbish.

When I look at the watercolours stocked in top commercial galleries, I see mostly, badly drawn paintings ( or worse than that, traced from photographs ) which are so utterly dull that I feel almost terminally mad with boredom.

Yes, but that still begs the question as to why oils should command higher prices. In the last two weeks, I have turned my full attention to painting and promoting my watercolours and so far, I have sold seven and have an interested buyer who wishes to see the rest of my port folio. On average I am selling these paintings for £360 - not a huge amount I know - but it means I am able to pay the bills and paint what I like, when I like.

As a water colourist myself, I feel your frustration. This 'fashion' has persisted for years, but perhaps economics is a factor, galleries can usually make more profit from the higher price that oils command?

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