Creative Business Ideas Feed

Pushing Back against Circumstance

So here's the thing about circumstances:  we consider them obstacles influencing our abilities to reach goals.

In which case we lose momentum, stall in creative endeavors until, suddenly, we're standing still.

So if you are setting goals for 2014, consider this: just re-frame the word circumstance into two ideas.

Circum - a prefix meaning 'around.'

Stance - a mental or emotional position adopted with respect to something.

There will always be circumstances in life.  We can stop and worry about them.  We can set things aside because of them.  We can even moan to our family and friends that the reason we haven't produced much in the past few months is because of those circumstances.

Or we can re-frame our experience, take a step back, and look for a different way around that mental or emotional position that we've adopted in response to what we think we are experiencing. 

The Partners We Want

Most artists realize - sooner or later - that we can't do it alone.  We need partnerships, people who support what we do, and to whom we offer our support in return.  This form of generosity is best when it comes without strings, when it's given in an attempt to support a relationship, or to see what another artist thinks.  These are the forms of generosity - the unconditional partnerships - I appreciate most.

I recently encountered a problem when varnishing my paintings.  I have been using Gamblin's product, Gamvar, with great results, but encountered an issue I couldn't resolve.  After posting on another social media site, I was connected to Scott Gellatly, from Gamblin Artist's Colors, who not only identified the issue (it had to do with the brand of lemon yellow that, when fully saturated, tends to green) but followed up with a tube of Gamblin's Hansa Yellow Light, as well as a sample of their new Solvent Free Gel

This is a level of customer support that we don't always see.  It goes beyond the desire to defend the brand.  And while it is not remarkable that a company might offer to solve a problem, it is remarkable when a company actively chooses to cultivate a relationship with one of it's customers without expecting anything in return.




I use Maroger's medium in some of my paintings and like it, other than the odor.  I compared  Maroger to Gamblin's new Solvent Free Gel.  The gel is clear from the tube.  It does not have the little puddle of solvent that  usually accompanies the Maroger. There was absolutely no odor.  The transparency and workability were identical, with only the slightest bit of difference with the Maroger's seeming to be 'creamier" as the paint left the brush, but I also felt it was inconsequential.  If you like the benefits of a Maroger type medium, try Gamblin's Solvent Free Gel and compare it for yourself.  

I also recently received an email from Jennifer Becker, offering to send me a copy of Living The Artist's Life, Updated and Revised, by Paul Dorrell.  Paul Dorrell is a well known gallery owner, founding Leopold Gallery in 1991.  I remember reading Paul's book years ago - this updated version is just as supportive as what I recalled, but I was also able to appreciate his insights at a much deeper level. 

Experience - our own, or that of others - is not static.   What I found particularly valuable in Paul's book is two-fold.  First, he writes as one artist to another, as someone who has dreamed, struggled creatively, faced rejection and success, and can articulate what perseverence is with a unique voice.  Second, he provides great insight into the art world from the retailer perspective - what it takes to make a sale, how small, and how large the art world is, and what challenges can at times seem insurmountable. Paul has shared his insight with the San Francisco Art Institute, the Art Students League of New York, the Boston Arts & Business Council, the Art Center of South Florida in Miami, and Pratt in Seattle, among dozens of other venues and artists.  And I recommend this book.

Not because Jennifer Becker sent me a free copy (which I appreciate.)

I recommend this book because, throughout the years Paul Dorrell has been the kind of partner we want, just as Scott Gellatly of Gamblin Artist's Oil Paints is the kind of partner we, as artists, want.  

And I choose to support them in return.

Click here to learn more about Scott Gellatly and Gamlin Artist's Colors

Click here to learn more about Paul Dorrell and the book Living the Artist's Life

Click below to learn more about my book Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist

"I could sure hear you in the book, very upbeat and encouraging...I also loaned your book to my Tucson art teacher and she let another friend of hers read it, too..."  TB, Tuscon, AZ

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That Pesky Sense of Urgency...

...might not be as urgent when viewed within the larger picture.

Artists who begin at a later age often feel disadvantaged: they've lost too much time and need to catch up.  I felt that way, worrying about the time I didn't have and the paintings I needed to produce before I started to get "good at it."

But an intense need to catch up creatively can often get in the way of what you want to achieve.  There is no race toward recognition, because many brilliant artists continue to work for decades without ever being recognized in the way we often imagine.  Letting go of the idea that validation from others is the only measure of your artistic success is the first step toward developing a sense of balance and personal accomplishment as you follow your artistic path.  While recognition does occur in the form of show acceptances, sales, awards, reputations and associations with fellow artists, these events will not dominate your experience. 

There are actions we can take to help keep things in perspective, become more efficient with our time, and achieve reasonable goals.  Here are a few that I use regularly:

Work in the studio when fully rested.  When I'm mentally or physically tired, I read art magazines, watch teaching DVDs, or go out looking for effective reference photos.

Negotiate Studio Time. Ask for three hours of uninterrupted time in return for mutual time that can include chores, entertainment, or going to the dog park (harder to negotiate).

Paint small studies with a 20 or 30 minute time limit. Learn your pigments, how to manipulate your tools, and composition skills. 

Complete larger work over the course of several days or weeks.  If you are always painting wet-in-wet, practice building up your painting over dry layers.  This can include sanding down the previous day's work and painting on top, using dry brush techniques, or finding new ways to achieve the painterly effects you want no matter what the conditions.

Spend time identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and focus specifically on where you are weak.  We automatically paint to our strengths, then wonder why the work never improves. 

 While there should always be a sense of urgency to get back into the studio, do so with the idea that your goal for that day, that hour, or even those fifteen minutes, is to work on your craft, to explore your creativity, and to allow the creative flow to manifest through your experience. 


Smith Summer Morning
Summer Morning, Oil

Salon International 13

Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art

San Antonio, TX



"I just purchased and read your book. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the info and will be following up on your blog. I turned 50 this year. I started my art career 3 years ago. I read as many art business and marketing books as I can but yours is the first I have found addressing starting out at 50." ~ RT, Oregon

Book - Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist: the business plan (not just) for the mature artist

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Why Finding Time is Better Than Having Time

Our collective artistic mythology holds that a true artist is one who devotes all of his time to the craft - it's part of the unspoken bias that if you work at it part-time you are only partly invested.

I get frequent questions from artists who wonder how they can have an art career when they need to work, and don't have the finances to work on their art full time.  We know it takes time to learn the various skills needed - it isn't something you can just drop in and do on an infrequent basis and expect great results. And if there weren't really good reasons to learn and practice and "just do it" there wouldn't be so many successful artists coming out of a strong foundational educational background. 

But it's safer for someone afraid of testing their wings to focus on what might be preventing them  - like the kid who finally makes it to the top of the high dive and then can't jump off because the water is too wet. It's a like holding out for perfect when perfect doesn't exist.

Having experienced this - from working full time, then part time, then completely unemployed/semi-retired, to needing to return to part time work, - perfect is what you have, not what you think it should be. 

Yes, there will be days when you're too tired to try.  Days when your frustration levels make you feel like you're pushing rocks uphill. 

But these frustrations occur whether or not you have the time - because it isn't the amount of time you have that makes the difference. 

It's whether or not you are willing to commit to the time you find. 

For some reason finding time changes the way you look at what you have in front of you.  It's a gift you are giving to yourself and your art.

Where as having time is more like an excuse not to take out the trash.




Why writing about your art might not be good for your art

Sometimes, what seems to be obviously good for you isn’t. 

Nearly every artist website has a section labeled Artist Statement.  Blogs abound.  Writing about your art can be highly motivating, and is universally accepted as part of the artist’s life. It's inspiring to feel part of a larger artistic world, to connect to others who create or appreciate art, and to feel the satisfaction of having your work positively accepted.  But the flip-side to all this writing is that it can stifle creativity.

Yes, what's good for you can also be bad.  There are times when I’ve tripped myself up with this dichotomy, the “yes, but…”
  • The writing about the art is really good…but the art isn’t mature enough to be written about yet.
  • I want to be innovative and creative…but if I put nebulous, fleeting ideas into formal writing, my self-censorship kicks in and the ideas die.
  • Sometimes it’s just enjoyable to think open-ended without knowing the result…but an equally effective Artist Statement, and the accompanying Artist Identity, makes it harder to take those risks.

When we think creatively, we need to be open to new ideas, images, and connections.  How often – subconsciously or not – do we remain wedded to our older ideas out of a desire for security, and its accompanying fear of failure, limiting our potential?  We know that applying a hyper-focus on a problem actually makes it more difficult to solve – just like the struggle to find the best words to communicate something insightful about your work can actually make it harder for you to understand what you are trying to achieve.  There are a few times when I’ve caught myself thinking, “I’d like to start making art like that, but how could I fit it into the portfolio I’ve built and written about?”  I realize I’m thinking too much about the audience – those people I've been writing to – and I try not to do it.  But I know that my willingness to take risks can be directly proportional to what I consider an effectively written description of what I have been doing – not where I’m interested in going.  In other words, when I'm really comfortable with an artist statement that I've written about a body of work, I'm more hesitant to move in a different direction. 

Here are a few ways I trick myself into seeing creative options, and to write effectively:

  • Write in a way that explores more questions than answers. 
  • Don’t think like a specialist, but an innovator.
  • Learn to write about craft, not output.
  • Write to explain the possibilities in the inspirations, philosophical connections, and Art History influences.
  • No Artist Statement can tell the whole story.
  • Always allow yourself to the freedom to succeed and fail – because the consequence is growth. 


I have always advocated writing as part of a journalistic, creative process, where existing ideas can be re-evaluated and re-combined in fresh and effective ways.  A clear understanding of the artistic process is not just associated with a formal, discerning explanation of what the artist intends, but must be combined with an ongoing engagement of thought, spontaneity, and ideas that form the imaginative experiment.  Devoting too much energy to writing about what you should be creating may actually prevent you from reaching the heights of achievement to which you aspire. And wouldn't that stiffle creativity.

So what do you think? How do you approach writing about your work? 

From deep in the weeds,




"I just purchased and read your book. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the info and will be following up on your blog. I turned 50 this year. I started my art career 3 years ago. I read as many art business and marketing books as I can but yours is the first I have found addressing starting out at 50." ~ RT, Oregon

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Taking Art Off the Grid


I recently read a Squidoo Lens about Myth-busting the idea of Living off the Grid.   The author (RenaissanceWoman2010) opened the discussion with a quote from Henry David Thoreau:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately...I wanted to live deep..."

There is an abundance of information about the mechanics of being an artist ( and yes, I write my own share of it),  but at times I want to get back to the idea of creating create deeply.  I started wondering if a concept like living off the grid might help me return to those quiet moments where I find insight into what it means to create art.

When I first thought about taking my art off the grid I imagined shutting down my blog, my website, closing my facebook account, refusing to enter shows...definitely not something my creative side would allow the pragmatic side to do.  Was I thinking in terms of myths here?  Could I hypothetically take my art off the grid without literally doing it?

Perhaps I was complicating my thinking.

Myth #1 Off the Grid means retreating from all aspects of the Art World.

And yet both Agnes Martin and Georgia O'Keefe found strength by retreating from outside influences, while the Artist Retreat has a long and valued history. So an argument could be made that there are times when the artist will benefit by retreating from daily activities, finding space to synthesize privately what she has learned, and to understand from a more deliberate and personal perspective. 

Myth #2 Off the Grid means slipping into obscurity.

This was a huge myth for me - I had to really think about what I was fearing - the idea of not actively participating in "being an artist" and all that means - galleries, shows, websites, on-line networking - if there is an artistic equivalent of jumping off the bridge I was sure this was it. 

But I changed the way I interpreted the idea of "obscurity" by thinking in terms of "personal expression."  Moving off the grid of current popular taste could be a huge step toward strengthening the conviction in my own work.  By mentally freeing myself from the temptation of comparison, I am not stepping into obscurity.  I am actually reinforcing the expression of deeper ideas that resonate with viewers looking for the same insights. 

Myth #3 Off the Grid means trying to become that embarrassing relative dressed in macrame and peace beads.  

This seemed like another expression of fear to me.  I remember when we moved from California to Oregon during the early 70's craze of "getting back to self-sufficiency." That meant subscribing to The Farmer's Almanac, buying chicks at the local Farmer's Co-Op, and herding escaped cows with your car (don't ask). So this myth seemed firmly embedded.

But stepping back from actively seeking acceptance for your artwork does not consign you to the fringe unless you step so far back you are now spending your time playing golf. 

Again it is a question of re-framing the idea.  Refusing to follow the trends -if only for a short period of time - gives you the freedom to explore what living deeply and creating deeply might mean to you.  Maybe it's an opportunity to make space for growth and understanding, to bring insight back and apply it with fresh energy and momentum.

Do you think getting off the grid might be a useful idea?  How would you take your work off the grid? As someone who is always looking for that philosophical angle, I am curious about your thoughts regarding this idea. 










A New Reading/Discussion Guide for Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist as a Squidoo Lens

In response to those of you requesting a "book club" atmosphere around Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist, I've just finished a fun new lens on Squidoo called Ancient Artist Resources for Artists - Study Group Guide for Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist.  

There's new content, discussions, and my favorite feature - the Dueling Debate Modules, where you can agree or disagree.  Why not get your artist friends together in a cafe or a studio and have an old-fashioned Salon?

Here is a sampling:


Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist is about your art - why you create art, and the choices you must make in order to create art. It is partly a discussion on the practical aspects of the art business, as well as an exploration into your own private understanding of what it means to be successful as an artist.

Just buying a book and reading it isn't always enough. The experiences of artists differ. The motives for creating differ, as well as the sources of satisfaction. While Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist is written from personal experience, as well as the experiences of others, it raises questions that are not easily answered.

This lens is an additional resource as you begin to identify your own questions.

This lens is about taking risks.

It's about finding your voice.

It's about art.



Creating commerce through our art work

...and the difference between the two

art opening in 2009

Art and commerce have always had a partnership: throughout most of world history, art was a commodity - a decoration, a fetish, forms of identification, or a means of story telling to an illiterate society. Artists worked for patrons and created on demand. Very few signed their work, and only within the last century has the idea taken root of the Artist creating Artwork as a means of personal experience - performance art, earth works art, environmental experience art. While expressive freedom has indeed opened the doors of opportunity for many artists, for others, the reasons behind the "why" of creating art have become far more nebulous.

Creative people struggle to find meaning and purpose as a daily experience. Without a "patron" we find ourselves on our own. And we ask: Who will buy our art? Who will help us sell our art? How can we justify the long hours of hard work with so little financial reward? Where will we find the funds needed to replenish our supplies, pay our mortgages, and contribute to our families while still maintaining our creative purpose without having to give up?

In Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist, the section on How to Mentor Yourself focuses upon how we can identify sources of inner emotional support, obtain practical knowledge, discover methods to improve our craft, and build resources to help maintain emotional balance. Discuss your response to these questions:

Do we create as a form of self expression? And if so, then when our "expression" is not appreciated why do we begin to doubt ourselves?

Do we create to sell in the marketplace? What does this mean in terms of the decisions we make regarding what we produce? How does this affect our interest in the work - whether the work sells, or does not sell?

What ideas did you respond to in the essay by Shannon E Myrick, Ph.D, titled "Motivation and Art: Does getting paid for your work lower its quality?" How does this theme of intrinsic verses extrinsic motivation work it's way through Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist?

Depending on the type of art you create (photography, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, clothing, painting) how have you integrated your personal expression into your work?

How do you think you are honoring your creative vision and why do you find this important?

What are your best methods for maintaining a balance between what seem like competing concerns?


I hope you will hop on over to Squidoo and see what's there - it's too much to recreate on this blog. 

Best to all of you - thank you so much for supporting Amcient Wisdom Emerging Artist, and wishing all of you a happy, creative life every day. 

Ancient Wisdom Emerging Artist

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Sign Posts Along the Way

This year I am participating in10th Annual 100 Artists Show at the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery in Salem, Oregon  - a very special art show titled the “Art of Communication."  The challenge set for this show was that each artist would receive an object in the mail, which would then be used as a starting point for a piece of art. 

A few weeks ago we each received a blank sheet of paper, with a stamped envelope – the envelopes were part of a "date of first issue" collection found at an estate sale, so the dates were from the 70’s, 80’s.  We were then partnered with another artist, and were instructed to write something on the blank sheet of paper – a note, story, poem – whatever we were inspired to write.  This would then be sent on to our partnered artist, and each of us were to respond to what we received by creating an “art object.”

Here is a brief quote from the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery:

“This year the proceeds from the 100 Artists Show “The Art of Communication” will be used to fund a special after school art and writing project for kids.  We want to replicate the DNA of this 100 artists show pairing children with each other as art pen pals and perhaps even with some of our 100 artists…an important component will be to record what takes place so that the curriculum can be shared free of charge with other communities across the country who are interested in this hands-on experience.”

My partnered artist is Jeanne Levasseur, a talented landscape artist from Portland.  Her inspiration was to write a poem, and she took some of her cues from the postmark date on her envelope of December, as well as a large  image of the Christmas themed postage stamp printed on the envelope.  The inspiration I sent her took the form of a story, played out in a letter from one young art student to another who had moved away to fly an airplane for the forest service (the image stamped on my envelope) – it will be very interesting to see how the various postmarks and images can “communicate” a story or personality or moment from one artist to their DNA partner artist, who in turn “communicates” that inspiration to the public in the form of a work of art. 

no title yet, 8 x 10, oil, ©2011

This is my current planned submission to the 100 Artists Show - unless I paint something I like better between now and the deadline.  It's actually the third painting - I was a little rusty and had a few "twenty-minute tone jobs" before I started to get the rhythm back. 

The 100 Artist Show will run from February 1 through March 3, 2012. All artwork will be online and for sale, as well as in a Blurb book - also for sale. As I get more details I will post them for you. The opening reception will be held on First Wednesday, February 2, 2012, at the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery, 335 State Street, Salem, Oregon  97301  It’s going to be a great show!

This is Thanksgiving Week, a time to be grateful for family and friends and the support that is all around us.  I am both humbled and very appreciative for the support I receive from the readers of this blog – and especially from those of you who have purchased Ancient Wisdom: Emerging Artist.  I am truly grateful for your overwhelming support.  I value all the emails I have received and I am so glad you are finding the book meaningful.  However, in all the edits and rewrites, there is at least one sentence that did not make it into the final version that I wish I had included – so I am including it here – feel free to write it in the book if you like:

There comes a point when you have to open your hands and let go of your expectations, when each brushstroke is an act of faith.

There is another quote from Robert Henri that I have always found meaningful:

“There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.” (Page 13, The Art Spirit)

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.


The Important eBay Question

Elizabeth B Tucker asked this important question about how I handle my mailing list with eBay customers: 

One question, two actually....1) Do you automatically add the person who bought your work to your email list? and 2) Do you send out a notice to your list every time you put something up on Ebay, or just let the "public" find you?

Thank you for bringing it up, Elizabeth, because Ebay has a very stringent policy against marketing to their members outside of the eBay system. If you do so, they consider it spamming, and you risk being banned from the site.

Here is how I manage my mailing lists with regard to my eBay clients:

I use an excel worksheet with a code that tells me they bought through eBay.

I do not initiate any contact outside of the purchase communications.  If they email me then I consider that a permission to add my email signature with website information in my communications back, but I do not ask them to visit my site.  What I do is include the bio/vita in the shipment so they have the artist contact information with the painting.  I think you have to be very careful that you do not violate - or appear to violate - eBay's rules against trying to complete an eBay-initiated sales transaction outside the system as a means of cheating them out of their commissions. 

I do not email eBay customers when I post a new auction - I think this would definately fall under the "spam" definition that eBay is so adamantly against. What I DO use is the same tag lines in my listings: Paintings From the Oregon Outback or Sue Smith, to make it easier for clients to identify my items.  Many of the repeat purchases came from items listed on the same day or over several days spaced close together. In one case, a previous eBay client emailed about a painting she saw on an expired auction and I put it back up on eBay with a Buy Now, emailed her, and she was able to purchase it immediately. I think there is also a way for clients to "bookmark" you as a "favorite seller" and check in to see what you have available.

If I had started an "auction-type" blog (which I haven't) then all updates would go out to those who had subscribed (opt-in), with links to the auction site.  I think this is the best approach to avoid being listed as a "spammer."

I do send out Christmas Cards to my eBay clients with a "thank you for supporting my art" message.

I do send occasional postcard mailings where there is an announcement/accomplishment that might reinforce their decision to  have purchased my art and generate interest in looking at my website and signing up for my newsletter.

I do try to respect their privacy and do not consider them in the same "marketing category" as those who have opted-in for my mailings, so my marketing efforts are far more passive with these customers.

While I don't think that eBay "owns" your clients anymore than a gallery "owns" the clients, I treat the relationship in much the same way, respecting the boundaries and obligations while still promoting my art, opening the door for subsequent "permissions-based" marketing as the client desires.

Please add any comments or experiences to help clarify what can often be a gray area in marketing.


  101_0557 copy1


THUMBNAIL_IMAGEAncient Wisdom:Emerging Artist is officially launched today through my eCommerce page.  The book will soon be available on Amazon, and they are in the process of converting the files for the Kindle. 

Here is an excerpt from the section titled Know Your Market:

"While your marketing efforts may not address all three goals at once, it is essential that your message addresses the prospect's point of view: what's in it for me?

Go back to your journal and pull together thoughts and words that resonate emotionally.  If you have testimonials from buyers all the better: having someone else describe why they responded to your work is a strong motivator for others considering a purchase."

This is the perfect book for you if you feel "stuck" or "discouraged", no matter what your age or experience. 

Art is life...create on purpose...step into your dream




Selling on Purpose

Taking control of your art business often means making the choice to sell your work on your own. 

This doesn't mean selling all of your work on your own.

This doesn't mean setting up your easel on the corner with a donation can at your feet. 

This means making a decision to create work specifically for a particular niche.  Work that is different from your usual work.  Work that is special because it's affordable and appeals to people you might not otherwise connect with in the normal day-to-day interactions with your primary art business.

Over the past many months I have been selling my work on purpose.  And with the profits I have been able to accomplish the following goals:

  • purchase unique art supplies that I normally would have considered a luxury
  • purchase an Isaak Levitan book that I would never have considered, given the cost
  • pay the small fees associated with several on-line art competitions without having to worry about whether or not I had the money available in my checking account
  • pay the membership dues of one arts organization
  • pay more than 50% of the cost for the American Women Artists group ad in Fine Art Connoisseur
  • sell another painting from my website to a collector who first found me through this process
  • sold again to a collector who has purchased from me over the years through this process
  • haven't had to expend a lot of time and energy building a following of fans through a blog
  • built up my mailing list with clients who have purchased my work
  • done it in a no stress, perfect-for-the-introvert environment, at my convenience

And this process?

It's no secret - eBay.  In fact, Jack White wrote a fascinating article on the Fine Art Views Blog, which offers another point of view. Sure, there's lots of really bad art on eBay.  Yes, they have those annoying rules, sometimes hold your funds for 21 days with what seem like arbitrary reasons, and both eBay and Paypal take their cut of the action.  True, not everything you list sells.  There's always the chance that your fabulous painting, which you sell for a pittance, will end up at a street fair with a huge pricetag and you'll never be paid what you're worth.  And if these statements or ones similar to them are annoying you right now then you aren't thinking about the title of this post: Selling On Purpose.

Consider these successful, personal experience ideas:

  • You create work specifically for this venue. It is different, smaller, but still represents your talent, professionalism and creativity.
  • You know going in that eBay loves a low price point.  And affordable shipping costs.  You create in a size that keeps your costs low and can be sent in a small box Priority Mail (don't use the "if it fits, it ships" box because you can send it for less in your own packaging and still get the Priority speed.  Always add in the delivery confirmation).
  • You surprise your buyer by including your bio, a postcard, a magazine where your ad is marked prominently, or some other "thank you" that directs them to your website where your real art is available. 
  • You think in terms of quantity. This is not an individual price idea but an accumulation of small sales approach because you are dealing with a purchasing demographic right now that is looking for "affordable."
  • You also think in terms of quality.  Do your best work.  Just do it smaller. Take these buyers as seriously as you take those entering a gallery.  Imagine the good will and repeat interest when they receive what they thought was a nice painting and discover it was painted by a real artist (we're talking Jack White here).
  • Plan ahead and have plenty of inventory on hand before you start listing.
  • Experiment to find the best days and times for your auctions to end.  In my experience there is very little meaningful activity until the final hour.  My best days are Mondays and Thursdays, ending at about 6pm PT

On average, I sell approximately half of what I list.  Some things are re-listed and eventually sell.  Others never appeal to the audience so they are retired for another day.  There also seems to be a cycle: I will sell multiple items in the same week or month, for several months, and then sales decline for awhile. 

On average, my prices are in the $30 to $60 range, for 5 x 7 and 6 x 6 paintings.  I do add in a shipping charge in the $7 range.  I have sold larger work, offering free shipping once, and a $15 charge another time; in both cases the purchase price of the painting equalled the shipping charge so it was either a wash or a loss for me after the fees.  Since calculating shipping charges is an annoyance and a time drain, I experimented until I found an amount that was consistently accurate.

Some of the more interesting clients I've encountered include one who asked me to repaint  a small area of the painting after she bought it, another who loved to email me to talk about his art, several fellow artists, a few who became repeat buyers, two who went on to purchase full price paintings, one who signed up for my email newsletter and has continued to follow me for years, several who live in major art destinations, and many more wonderful enthusiastic people who loved their paintings. 

Maybe not what you equate with serious art.  But worth it.