Tag Archives: $100 paintings for sale online

How I made $90,000 selling paintings online

I’m living my dream. After years of living other dreams (singer, novelist) I’m now living my original dream. To make a living as a painter. I always imagined this would require a gallery, but, as it turns out, it doesn’t.

I started painting faces in my room as a young teenager. 11 x 17″ watercolor self-portraits in the mirror. Over the years, I showed them to special people in my life, but then, when color laser copying became viable, I showed them in a limited way at events I sang with my voice and guitar rock duo.

What was more important than being technically incredible was the emotion on these faces. My parents were both painters and I picked up a lot from them in terms of composition and technique, but neither of them painted people. All of this is uniquely complicated in the way that every teenagers life feels overwhelmed by their relationships as they emerge from childhood. I gave art school a try, but I was so keen to leave home that I opted for a full time job in a newspaper production department and painted in my spare time. Life unfurled for the next 40 years, twisting and turning in ways that I had not expected! Which brings us to now.

I’ve sold 900+ $100 USD paintings online in less than 4 years

I don’t have a million followers, but of the ones I do have really appreciate being able to buy good art for an affordable price. I have 2667 friends on FaceBook, 815 followers on Twitter and 1161 followers on Instagram.

It certainly helps that I am in a band that has a reputation for creating work that intends to create progressive social change, but I’d say most of my customers didn’t know my band before they started collecting my paintings.

That I’ve been dealing with elderly parents and housing issues while painting almost every day has resulted in me revealing what is going on in my personal life. This came easily enough to me because I’m a writer and a public person. But I would say that allowing people to know me is part of the appeal for a buyer of work online.

The housing issue I’m facing isn’t unique. As the economy changes and drives artists of all stripes away from urban centers cities become less culturally vital. This is very unfortunate, yet it holds potential for structuring life in places that are conducive to creativity that doesn’t necessarily rely on external stimuli. Peace and quiet, less pressure to earn astronomical amounts that city-living requires. Maybe lowering overhead will result in being able to quit a part-time joe job.

The possibility that I may have to leave my rental unit and find a place in uncharted territory in western Canada has become something of a group project, which is perfect, because once I’m set up I don’t want to sit alone in some small town where I don’t know anyone. I want artists (painters, film makers, writers, musicians) from all over to come and stay for free while they work on projects that intend to change the world.

Friend me on FaceBook to see paintings first. It would be great if you mentioned seeing this article.

Below this example – my most recent painting are tips for how I sold $90,000 USD worth of paintings online

No Hat #754 800

“No Hat #754″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 8, 2019
$100 USD plus shipping

– I paint and post new work almost every day (4 years in January, 2020)
– the work has always been good, but is advancing by leaps and bounds
– the price is low at $100 USD (11 x 14″) and has never gone up
– I ship for a flat rate of $15 that includes tracking and insurance
– the theme is consistent: emotions on women’s faces
– personal stories allows customers to know me
– I emailed a pitch to the Jealous Curator and she posted my paintings saying: “First, oh my word I love these portraits so, so, so much. Second, Canadian rocker turned painter Jean Smith sells these paintings on Facebook for $100 a pop. WHAT? Yes, true story.”
– The Jealous Curator promotion tripled sales (to 50) that month before settling at about twice what they were before
– I track my sales by month and post how many have sold (which has been a gradual increase aiming for 30 a month)

– once I was earning more than I needed I created a goal for what I intend to do with the money from sales above my expenses
– my paintings are inherently collectable and encourage owning more than one by creating a repeating post called “There’s something about these three together.”
– I always show the painting again when it sells and say where it’s going and sometimes to whom
– I maintain albums of currently available, all paintings, SOLD, various themes (astronauts, scuba divers, aviators, angry women in rock, ruff collars) that allow viewers to engage in ways that suit their viewing proclivities
– I post new work around the same time every day

Scuba # 800

“Scuba #6″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) October 24, 2019
$100 USD plus shipping

help me

I have gone out to community events like Art Walks and Car Free Days, but this didn’t really pay off in an way as far as sales. I’m on the left. Met some very nice people though!

Likewise, I’ve tried a bit of what I can glean about SEO, adding the phrase “contemporary portrait painting” to my blog posts, but it hasn’t changed anything noticeably. I try to let go of ideas that aren’t working (direct emails to interior designers) and stick with what does work. Paint and post on FaceBook. Lots of people tell me to raise my prices, but I think I’d just sell fewer paintings. I like the pace of painting every day and selling about half of what I do. I’m working on increasing that, but as I’m doing this alone, I need to make sure I keep painting, and then there’s the packaging and shipping. All very time consuming.

There are elements that would be difficult for anyone else to re-create, such as being in a band that has put out records and toured a lot (mostly in the 80s and 90s) as well as having an existing ease with revealing my personal life due to having done a ton of interviews over the years. Pull from your unique experience and let people get to know the one and only you!

Mecca Normal (Jean Smith & David Lester)

My band Mecca Normal rocking out at a literary event at the library.


Fantastic display by one of my customers, an interior designer in Ontario.

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Melissa Tvetan’s collection in LA

At some point, Melissa decided to pay an extra $50 USD for my $100 USD paintings, which I find subversive and inspiring! She works at Sundance Institute, so of course I imagine her (eventual) stay at the residency will involve film and possibly a film about the residency and/or how to subvert the flow of funds in creative ways, how (and why) to buy property to make available to artists working on projects that intend to change the world! See? I told you she inspires me!

“This time last year I was really struggling & could only daydream about collecting. Your spectrum of work (writing, music, painting) has motivated me on a number of levels & sincerely makes the lives of my household better everyday.” – Melissa

All sales above my expenses ($1000 USD a month) go towards opening the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change!. $750 USD has been raised so far this month.

Amidst the Waves #8 800

Amidst the Waves #8

No Hat #483 800

No Hat #483

no hat #543 800

No Hat #543

Ruff Collar #19 800

Ruff Collar #19

No Hat #466 800

No Hat #466

No Hat #390 800 a

No Hat #390

On Stage #5 800

On Stage #5

No Hat #662 800

No Hat #662

No Hat #509 800

No Hat #509

Owl #3 800

Owl #3

Fox #18 800

No Hat #360 800

Ruff Collar #8

No Hat #706 800

No Hat #706

Cherry Sari #2 800

“Cherry Sari #2” added to the collection November 28, 2019


$100 USD Paintings for Sale Online: October Sales

sold OCT

43 $100 USD paintings sold in October! Incredible!

All sales above my $1000 USD monthly expenses go towards opening the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change. $3300 USD raised in October.

Ideal spex: Outright purchase. No mortgage. Not in a mobile home park or any other type of leased land. Within 3 hours of Vancouver. Room for artist residency and accommodation and studio in the house or in a separate structure (large shed, converted garage, trailer, converted school bus).

I’m monitoring house price reductions and assessing whether new listings are any lower than higher seasons. So far it doesn’t seem like it. The longer I wait, the more funds I’ll have = fewer structural problems, closer to Vancouver and better weather.
Painting sales are always slow at the end/beginning of months making this the least competitive time to buy.

$100 paintings for sale online

Follow my $100 USD paintings for sale online on Instagram, but they are always posted on FaceBook first.

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Detail of two ‘sold’ paintings drying in the sun after a layer of gloss medium. I post photographs of the paintings (here and on FaceBook) before the layer of gloss which tends to unify the surface as well as protect it.

Next: package to ship with tracking and insurance ($15 USD / CAD)


detail with gloss and shadow


detail with gloss

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Video: The Painting of Angry Women in Rock

12 minutes: painting three at the same time. I mentioned how this can be beneficial, but that segment got cut from the one hour of footage. It reduces overpainting when I have another painting to move to and then, after being involved with that one, returning to the first one I get a refreshed idea of where it’s at.






Angry Woman in Rock #16 800

Angry Woman in Rock #16

Angry Woman in Rock #17 800

Angry Woman in Rock #17

Angry Woman in Rock #18 800

Angry Woman in Rock #18

Reference paintings on the monitor


Angry Woman #10 800

Angry Woman #9 800

Angry Woman #8 800

Angry Woman in Rock #8




FaceBook album: Anger

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Video: $100 USD paintings currently available

Midway through every month I put together a video of all the $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″) available. Music by Mecca Normal with part of a CKUT interview near the end.

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Video: $100 USD paintings currently available

Midway through every month I put together a video of all the $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″) available. Music by Mecca Normal with part of a CKUT interview near the end.

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20 sold to an interior designer

No Hat #608 800

No Hat #600 800

No Hat #600

No Hat #589 800

No Hat #589

The Hat #89 800

The Hat #89

The Hat #84 800

The Hat #84

No Hat #569 800

No Hat #569

no hat #550 800

No Hat #550

No Hat #591 800

No Hat #591

The Hat #93 800

The Hat #93

No Hat #584 800 3 auto

The Hat #584

No Hat #456 800

No Hat #456

No Hat #557 800

No Hat #557

No Hat #567 800

No Hat #567

No Hat #495 800

no hat #542 800

No Hat #542

No Hat #339 800

No Hat #339

No Hat 261 800

No Hat #261

No Hat #470 800

No Hat #470

No Hat 260 800

No Hat #260

No Hat 270 800

No Hat #270

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