james peter cost art thrifted for five dollars
decorating,  thrifting

My Thrifted James Peter Cost Art Is Worth How Much?

A few weekends ago I was browsing the art section at my local Habitat Restore.

By art section I mean stacks of framed art haphazardly leaning against a wall.

All art in this particular Restore is $2 unless otherwise marked.

I found a large painting of a barn for $5 by an artist named James Peter Cost.

I don’t know how long the painting had been there, but it was quite dusty. I stood there staring at it for several minutes trying to decide if I’d regret not buying it. I know $5 isn’t a lot, but I’m still intentional with how I spend my five bucks.

It is less about the money and more about:
1) Do I have a place for this art?
2) Am I going to enjoy it for a good long while?

I’m not a collector. If I don’t have a place for the art or I’m quickly going to tire of it, then it becomes a waste of money and a burden to find a new home for it.

james peter cost art thrifted for five dollars

My attention to the painting prompted other people to try to figure out why I was staring at an old, dusty painting. When they figured out it was a print and not an original (it’s hard to tell at first glance) they moved on quickly.

I was still drawn to the print and decided the art fit the style of my house, so it came home with me. With tax I ended up paying $5.33. I even had exact change. That never happens!

When I got home I researched the artist, James Peter Cost. Most of what I gleaned is from the website representing James Peter Cost’s work.

Cost was originally a teacher and at his wife’s urging decided to paint full time. Together, they ran the James Peter Cost Gallery in California from 1964 – 1989. Cost passed away in 2002. He is lauded for his paintings of rural America and of the sea. Some of his original paintings, according to his website, have appraisal values in the mid-$20,000 range.

Cost’s paintings have been reproduced in a variety of formats including lithographs and iris (giclee) prints. Iris prints, due to how they are printed, are more valuable.

james peter cost art thrifted for five dollars

At the time of this post, the website for James Peter Cost is selling an unframed iris print just like mine of “Winter Green” for $1,200.

Twelve hundred dollars.

On eBay, at the time of this post, the same print is for sale with a starting bid of $500.

If you happen to be reading this and are a collector or in the art business, I apologize for probably messing up all the art terminology in this post. I’ve just been introduced to the world of James Peter Cost and I’m thoroughly enjoying learning about this artist and how original paintings are reproduced.

Is there a thrill to accidentally buying something that might be worth a lot of money? Yes.

Will I be sad if this art turns out to be worth nothing? No, of course not. In fact, I’m certain it has no monetary value because the print looks faded compared to the one the gallery is selling. It looks very similar to the one on eBay though.

Researching this art’s origin and learning about the artist has opened my mind to a part of the world that is new to me. That’s always time well spent.

In fact, the wife of James Peter Cost sent me a lovely email and took the time to tell me that the scene in “Winter Green” was painted in Carmel. It was property that used to be owned by Clint Eastwood. She thought the barn was still standing. Isn’t that cool? It does seem like property Clint Eastwood would own.

I feel like I’m living in my own version of Antiques Roadshow and the rollercoaster ride is ridiculously fun!

If you’d like to learn more about James Peter Cost or see other examples of his work, click here.

If you’d like to know the difference between an iris print/giclee and a lithograph, this website was helpful.

Thanks for being here today and coming along on this journey with me! Here are some other posts you might enjoy. 

The art I saved from the trash and carried home a mile. 

Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Drizzle

Visiting The Louvre With Kids


*affiliate links in this post*

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  • Sandy Smith

    I love this picture. Of course I am a farmer at heart and enjoy the old barns. This one kind of reminds me of one my Uncle Nick had in Williams, Oregon. I last saw it 6 or 7 years ago. It brought back so many memories of this dear uncle. (the house on this place had burned down many years before).

    Keep looking for bargains. You are a pro!

  • Chris Manke

    My folks are about to celebrate their 55th anniversary, this painting was what greeted visitors who came through the mud room door (folks who we considered family never used the front door). The picture was destroyed in an accident when we moved them from their home of 40 years. I don’t have the 1200 his wife wants for the print and its not for sale anywhere else. If you ever want to part ways with it please keep me in mind, as the picture would find a home in my parents house and eventually hang in mine with pride. Thanks, and take care.

    • annisa

      I’m so sorry their painting was destroyed! I’ll definitely keep your email address just in case! Please congratulated them on so many years of marriage.

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