Cruise Internet to evaluate art’s worth

One of the common questions I receive as a gallery owner is, ‘How much is this painting worth?’ Lots of people have bought paintings or received them from family members and feel that they own something of great value and want to cash in. We hear stories of lost paintings found in attics going to auctions and bringing in millions of dollars. It’s a nice dream but you have a better chance at winning the 649 than finding a lost Picasso. So how do you find out what Great Aunt Matilda’s painting is worth?One of the ways to get an accurate value of a painting is to take it to an appraiser like Lindland & Associates in Calgary where they will give you a professional appraisal of the work for around $500. If you’re unwilling to go through that hassle, the Internet is your best resource. The first thing I do is Google the name of the artist under ‘images’ and see what comes up. If a number of the artist’s paintings pop up on the screen right away, you’re in luck. From there it’s just a matter of following the links to the artist’s art dealers and finding a painting of similar quality that is for sale. Bingo! You have found the painting’s approximate market value.Another way to asses the worth of a painting is to look up the artist on the web and see if you can find out anything about the artist’s history. The worth of a painting doesn’t always have to do with the artist’s artistic merit, more often than not it has to do with branding. That means, did the artist receive professional training and where? Have they had any big shows like at the Vancouver Art Gallery? Does Arnold Schwarzenegger own one of their pieces? Does the artist have any art dealers? Or did the artist recently die in a plane crash? All of these things can really push up the value of a painting. If your search on the web turns up nothing then the dollar value of the paintings is worth whatever it sells for. Generally, I discourage people from selling off their family heirlooms, instead sharing the artwork with a close friend or another family member is a much better way to go if you absolutely must let go of the piece. Often museums will take and care for donations of artwork because their historical importance. I personally feel the value of a painting goes much further than it’s monetary worth. I have many paintings in my home that are not my own and I absolutely love them. My art collection started when I was around 17 and I came home to visit my parents while they were getting ready for one of their many garage sales. I rescued two oil paintings out of the garbage done by my Great, Great Uncle Peter dated 1912. I still have the paintings today, and while they’re not really worth anything, to me they are priceless!———Artist Karla Pearce returns to the Times with her column, the Creative Edge. The Creative Edge will run on the second and fourth Monday of each month.