My Ramblings: Paint to Sell or Paint to Create

Sell or Create Pic

The furniture painting business is a tough gig.

I mean it’s about the oddest job you could imagine – painting late nights a coat here and there and working around family commitments, driving all over the place to pick up furniture that may or may not even be nice, meeting with complete strangers in their homes and trying to be wise about safety, and laying on the cold garage floor to paint at just the right vantage point.
Plus putting yourself out there to have your work critiqued and such.  Then marketing your work and trying to sell it.
Then there’s being available to show your pieces and such.

It’s certainly not for everyone.

I confess I struggle with wanting to teach and empower others to pick up a paint brush to try it for themselves (painting is my passion after all)  AND wanting others NOT to paint as it has become such a trendy thing for people to do and it doesn’t feel nearly as special or valued anymore because EVERYONE and THEIR MOTHER PAINTS FURNITURE NOW.
It truly makes me want to stop painting furniture.

I digress.

So…another dilemma that I face regularly as a furniture painter is what COLOR to paint.
Oh my.
This can be such a struggle.

Most times I see a piece and I know right away just what color I want to go with.
That happens at least 80% of the time I’d say.
The other times are met with indecision …. what color would look nice?
Where will the buyer put this piece in their home and what would work for their space?

This has been the dilemma I have faced with the sweet dresser  I pictured above.
And the motivation for my ramblings.

Do I let my creativity guide my choice or do I paint it a color that is safe and one that will easily sell?
I struggle with this last question all the time!

I sell my refinished pieces and trying to decide what will be received well by customers is always something to consider.

I know that if I paint all my pieces WHITE that they will sell.
But geez…I didn’t get into the furniture painting business to paint everything white.

There is no vision or creativity in that.
It’s safe … yes…but at what cost?
Am I selling out on what drew me to painting furniture in the first place?

Let me give you some visuals…

Bergere Milk-Painted Dresser

Bergere Milk-Painted Dresser

I painted up this sweet dresser in Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Bergere…what made this one a little risky was the handpainting -
I knew not everyone would love the floral drawer fronts, but I had a vision and I wanted to embrace it.
That meant it sat a few months at the shop, but I was OK with that.
I was feeling artistic.

Arabesque Dresser

Arabesque Dresser

Sometimes certain colors can be risky…like PINK.
Why I don’t know, but it seems pieces that I have painted pink stick around for a bit….as this cutie did.
So strange to me.
I adore PINK!

Miss Mustard Seed Tricycle Dresser

Miss Mustard Seed Tricycle Dresser

Even my red pieces can be slow to sell.
I know they are bold in color, but I think red can work in many places in a home and can complement many color palettes.
This cutie sat for a little too.

Coral Blooms Dresser

Coral Blooms Dresser

This one I took a chance on too…not only with the coral-peach color, but with the floral decopage on the front.
I was livin’ on the edge.
I loved this cute piece – if it were me, I would design a whole room around it such as with a nursery, but honestly people oftentimes don’ have the vision or confidence to do that.
I had this around for a bit, but she did sell eventually.

Rustic Artissimo Dresser

Chippy Rustic Artissimo Dresser

Ironically this is the very first piece I painted for the shop when I began to take things there.

I was bold, unafraid, undeterred by what would sell and what wouldn’t…
creative, free, and maybe a little naïve…but happy.
This chest took a bit to sell too, but it sold as well.

Everything sells….I have always known that to be true!
This one was even one that Miss Mustard Seed spotlighted on her blog in the past – I think that counts as a win :)

I could paint furniture white from sun up to sun down and sell, sell, sell.

People always want white, but as lovely as it is, it kills the furniture painter’s creativity and vision.

I do paint white, but not all the time.
I really have nothing against it.
I love it as much as I love other colors.

I figured I didn’t get into this business just to paint white to appeal to the masses and to sell easily, but to create, restore, and make what was once seen as old, outdated and dilapidated beautiful and functional again.

I think when money becomes the driving force behind painting, it is easily to sell out our passions to appeal to the masses.
Losing our first love happens easily.
I think I’ll stick true to what drew me to painting in the first place…
it’s what makes my work MY work.
And I’m ok with that.
I will wait for the sale.
And be happy.

What are your thoughts…paint t create or paint to sell?
How do you decide?













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  1. I LOVE your work! I am so glad that you have decided to stick with your artistic instincts and continue to use colors that speak to you.

    You have opened my eyes to the possibilities many times!

  2. Kim Rowland says:

    Thank you! This is a constant struggle! Not only is white boring after a while, , but it’s quite a challenge to get good coverage. I’m in a booth, and I must sell to make my rent! But the creativity is the reason I started painting 5 years ago! I’m glad to see someone as talented as you are still faces these same challenges.


  3. Amen sister! The struggle is real. Although I’m ready to throw caution to the wind. I’ve had several white pieces sit longer than usual and some colors sell well lately. So who knows…

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