Buying Watercolour Paintings from Artists on eBay.

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             j o h n s a l m o n w a t e r c o l o u r s


As a practicing artist who sells his watercolour artwork on eBay, I am often asked questions about watercolour painting so I aim to make this information available to anyone wishing to start buying art here.

I sell my artwork to a whole variety of people on eBay, who, over time have become like friends. I have a constantly evolving kernel of collectors who buy my paintings for various reasons. It could be either to, display in their homes, as an investment, as gifts or even to resell in their own art galleries. I have sold paintings worldwide and am pleased to say I have built a reputation for producing fine watercolour artwork.

I hope this information will be useful, especially if you are about to dip your toe into buying art for the first time. Hopefully it will make choosing your painting easier as you will be more knowledgeable about the subject.

Why buy art on eBay?

Many artists now sell their artwork on eBay. Some galleries charge artists up to 60% commission to sell in their galleries and we can appeal to a wider range of people on eBay who may have found the gallery experience a little intimidating. We can offer our work at realistic prices and it allows us to be more productive because we are not hawking our work around and more people will see our work here than in some galleries. Also you only need to buy the actual painting from us. This way you can supply your own style of frame, which is a matter of personal taste but more about that later.

What is watercolour?

Basically, watercolours are very fine coloured pigments that are mixed with water and various gums to bind them together so they can be applied to a surface, which is normally a special thick watercolour paper.

What is meant by Pure Watercolour?

This is a term used by artists which means they have retained the natural white of the paper for their highlights instead of using a white paint known as body colour or gouache. Normally an artist would paint the lighter parts of a picture first using transparent colour and then build up to the darker passages. This is a difficult process to master, but in a pure watercolour this will impart a glow which is a part of a watercolours charm. I work using pure watercolour painting techniques and do not use body colour. 

What is Gouache?

Gouache, (pronounced, gwash), is a form of watercolour paint which is opaque. It dries to a chalky finish if it is built up in thick layers and can have a tendency to craze. It is normally used by designers who create an image for photographic and printing purposes. Instead of utilising the white of the paper, it can be lightened by mixing with white gouache. Picasso and many well known artists used gouache on occasion because it can be overpainted and obscure any underlying colour. It can be fun to use but is not as long lasting as good quality watercolour paint.

What are Artist Quality Paints?

These are painting materials that are superior in quality. They will be more lightfast and not be fugitive (change intensity in different lighting conditions) like some inferior quality materials that are sold more cheaply. The artist quality colours are more intense, pure and transparent.

What does 140lb watercolour paper mean?

This is a measure of the paper we use for painting watercolours. All it means is that a ream of the paper we use would weigh 140lb. This is only really useful to those in the know but to give you a better idea; I paint on 140lb paper which is just over half a millimetre thick, this is equivalent to approx 6 sheets of the paper that is currently in your printer. The paper I use is more like a textured card. It is acid free, which means it will not yellow over time and in ideal conditions will last many hundreds of years. Papers can be either machine made from wood pulp or hand made from rag. I use both types.

What is a Matt or Mount?

These are both the same thing. It is a piece of coloured cardboard the same size as the frame. It has an aperture cut into it that is a little smaller than the painting. The painting is attached to the back of the mount therefore it will be showing through the aperture. The main function of the mount is to tidy the edges of the painting and prevent the painting from making contact with the glass of the frame.

Does the size of a painting matter?

No not really. A small painting can have just as much thought and craftsmanship in it as a larger painting. Very often it is more difficult to paint at a smaller scale. The size of the painting is a personal choice for the buyer but always remember to add 6 inches to the width and height of the painting to allow for the mount. Therefore a painting, which is 7 x 5 inches, will be 13 x 11 inches when you include the mount and a little more still, when you include the frame.

Some people like to buy smaller paintings so they can group them together on a wall or even put three or four paintings into one frame to make a larger impact. If you go to my eBay MePage you'll find a link to some informative framing tips that I wrote. This will give you more detailed information regarding framing watercolours and some of the options available. Frame styles are a personal choice and there is a huge choice from heavy gold ornamental to simple black enamel.


Does the image of a painting on eBay do it justice?

This is a major concern of mine. I have seen some of my work on laptops with LCD flat monitors and they do not faithfully represent my artwork accurately in many cases. I have had lots of comments saying the painting is much better in real life because the image they saw was O.K. but certainly not perfect. I take a lot of care to produce images as much like the real thing as possible but there are bound to be slight differences due to the way our monitors have been set up to display graphics. Please bear this in mind.


Can I hang a painting in my bathroom or Kitchen?

I would be very cautious here. Moisture in the air and bright sunlight are the enemies of all artwork and I'd recommend not to. Also, hanging paintings above radiators could be detrimental to an artwork and shorten its life. Posters and cheap prints would be O.K. but even these could cockle or wrinkle up in a frame in a moist atmosphere.


Would an oil painting age better than watercolour paintings?

Not necessarily. Early watercolours that have been kept in ideal conditions can last longer than some oil paintings that tend to acquire a crazed appearance as they age. The cave paintings of 15,000 years ago were water based and they still look just as good today as the day they were painted.


Will I be able to prove provenance in the future?

There is every chance that your watercolour artwork may become collectable in the future. As a professional artist, I catalogue all of the paintings I sell on eBay. Each one is given a unique number along with a signature on the back. The number and an image is kept on a database so that it can be proved to be an original artwork from me in the future. Unfortunately, in the past, some disreputable people have tried to sell poor copies and prints of my work which is copyright fraud, but by having a catalogue of my output, I can prove whether a painting is mine or not. If you should have concerns about a painting which is purported to be one of mine, I will be only too happy to hear from you via email.


A few more tips to help you on your way.

Always ask any questions you may have. An artist will always be happy to answer any queries or concerns you may have.

It is important to check an artists' feedback to ensure you are dealing with someone with integrity and a good track record.

Only buy what you like. It's all to do with personal taste. What could be priceless to me could be rubbish to you.

Some people invest with a view to hopefully finding the next new talent whose work will rise in value over time but this can be a risky business if you are new to art. If an artwork is of a good high quality there is every chance it will increase in value over time anyway as the artists' work becomes more collectable. Having said that, it's only a question of time before the art worlds next big talent could be found amongst the ever-growing band of eBay artists.

Don't forget, just because you may be buying art on eBay doesn't necessarily mean it is bargain basement art. The internet is changing the way art is being sold, you only have to see the number of brick built art galleries that are closing to realise that art on the internet is becoming more accessible to everyone now.

All you need to do now is decide what style of art it is that interests you. It may be Impressionist, Abstract, Abstract Expressionist, Surreal, Figurative, Minimalist or whatever it is you like.

I like most styles of painting but for my own work I concentrate on traditional atmospheric watercolour landscapes and have a tremendous admiration for the beautiful work that was created by the watercolour masters of the 17th century such as Turner and John Sell Cotman. The work I do today is created using virtually the same tools, materials and methods that were employed then.

If, by any chance, this is the sort of work that appeals to you, I have provided a link to search for similar art. Search for Watercolour Landscape Paintings

The very best of luck with your quest. I'm certain you will have a lot of enjoyment searching for art that will feed your soul, and, you never know, you could be choosing the art of someone whose work could be highly collectable in the future.


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