What To Look For When Purchasing Canvas Art And Paintings On eBay And The Internet

There are hundreds of artists selling their art work and paintings on eBay now. Most of the time you will purchase a real, hand painted, original work direct from the artist – these are usually a real bargain (direct from the artist with no gallery mark up), and usually high quality, beautiful works. Most artists selling on eBay are genuine artists, people who love to paint and genuinely make a living selling their work. However, as with all trades, there are those in it just to make a fast buck and leave you with inferior, poor quality art, not something you would want to hang on your walls.

Here are some things to look out for.


Always check the size of a painting before buying. If you are not sure of sizes make sure you get a ruler an measure out the size of the painting. It is even worth making paper templates and checking the painting will look good and fit the wall where you hope to hang it. Checking the size is especially important if an artist uses a mocked up picture of a settee or room showing how their painting may look. Often these do not represent the real proportions (as usually stated in the auction) and you should make sure you know the real size before you place your bid.

If it seems to good to be true it probably is….

Beware of people claiming to be artists who sell their paintings in galleries yet they list their works on eBay for a few pounds – if they were selling for hundreds in galleries would they really regularly part with the same work for only a few pounds?

Check that a hand painted painting is all hand painted.

If you are looking for an original, make sure you know the entire painting has been hand painted. Often images are printed on to canvases and then ‘artists’ will add a couple of brush strokes. The painting can then be said to be ‘hand painted’ but it may not be exactly what you had in mind.

Stretched or Un-stretched

If you are buying a canvas painting make sure you know if it is stretched or not. Most artists paint on stretched canvas and ship the paintings already framed. Make sure you know what you are buying before you place your bid. An un stretched canvas may be easier and cheaper for the artist to post but you will need to get it stretched once you receive it. The cost of having a painting stretched can be huge – much more than the difference between shipping for a stretched verses an un stretched canvas. Before buying an un stretched painting it would be a good idea to contact a few picture framers in your area to find out how much a stretching service would be. That way you will know how much you will be looking to spend on top of the cost of the painting and the shipping.


If you are buying a commission from an artist make sure you know how long the commission will take and the colours, design and size. Check if the artist will send you a photo to approve before sending your painting and if you want something in a different colour if the artist does not state that this is possible in the listing it is probably best to email the artist before you buy.

Read Feedback

You should always check a users feedback before you buy on eBay – are people happy with the product they have bought? Take a look at the artists ‘about me’ page and see if they have a website – if so take a look.

Have Fun

The most important thing when buying an original piece of art is to have fun – enjoy it. Enjoy searching for that perfect piece. The expectation as you wait for it to arrive. Have fun unwrapping it (like a Christmas present) and enjoy the colour, the design and the texture of the paint and brushstrokes. If you choose something you really like hopefully you will have something you will really enjoy and love for years to come. There is a painting out there for every one – where will you find yours?