If you enjoy collecting original art then you know shopping art galleries can be expensive and for some, intimidating.
If you are on a budget, but love the idea of buying handcrafted paintings made by real hands instead of reproductions made with machines, there are plenty of online and real life places to find original paintings.
Original paintings made of well… actual paint … last much longer than reproductions and prints made from ink and sprayed onto paper.
I make a lot of art but I also like to collect paintings myself. I typically set a modest annual budget, and enjoy the process of selecting that one favorite painting each year.
My top places to find affordable original art are:
Specializing in all things handmade, most everyone has heard of Etsy by now. Love it or hate it, it is still one of my favorite places to discover undiscovered budding artists who paintings have a fresh, authentic feel.
Etsy is big, with thousands of paintings and even more prints. To weed out the prints and make sure you fall in love with originals simple search for subjects that appeal to you plus the words original art or original painting. Example: “whimsical original paintings” or “southern folk paintings”
Local Art Festivals
I prefer the outdoor, tent type. I love the fresh air and the mood of these events. But the reality is that many art festivals are real dogs – over advertised and over priced affairs featuring artwork that I can’t afford. Just like real estate, the secret to great art fests is location, location, location. You just won’t know until you go.
I use fests to scope out artists I like, then I make certain to follow them on facebook or twitter to get to know their work before I buy.
But hey, I only get to buy one painting a year. Depending on where you live and the local availability of art fests, if you find something that’s love at first sight, fits your budget, and fits in your truck I advise you to go ahead and buy it while it’s available.
Local Open Studio Tours can be a great way to discover new artists. Often if you take the time to drive to their studio you will find a bargain section or smaller, more affordable works that you won’t find at openings or exhibits.
It’s ok to stop by just to look during an open studio event. The whole day is designed to invite the curious lookers into the artist’s private studio space.
When you are traveling and have a spare afternoon, hit Google and search for nearby open studio tours. I have lucked out this way on more than one occasion.
I called these gritty galleries because they are usually located in a gritty, less desirable but artsy part of large cities. Search for thrift stores, craft malls, or vintage shops. Often these type places have some funky cheap original paintings for sale. Many times they are located near other similar shops, some even specializing just in art.
You can also find “art district” brochurse at the visitor center. Sometimes these areas pan out, other times they are tourist traps – but you never know until you try.
I tend to stay out of the expensive “gold-frame” galleries. They kind where everything on the wall has a thick gold frame around it. Fun to look in these galleries, but they are over budget for most average collectors.