I am often asked how I price my paintings. First I will tell you how you should price a 2 dimensional piece of art. The usual (ideal) formula is to set a price per square inch. Add your cost for materials and the hourly compensation you feel you deserve for the actual hours spent creating your art. This should be your basic rate. Now do a reality check. Can you really command your price? You may find the price you determined is far above or below the average for similar work in your market. In that case you must scale up or down to compete with other artists in your area. Don't vastly under price your work. If the price is too low, some buyers under value your work. It's strange I know but that can hurt your sales. Understand if you are virtually unknown you probably won't get as much money as a better established artist. Even if your work is just as good you should expect to sell your work for less. Make a name for yourself and then you'll get the big bucks. This takes some time and marketing.
Now, lets complicate things a bit. Do you really want to sell the work? If not, feel free to inflate the price of those paintings you can't bear to part with, at least until you feel better about letting them go. Someone once asked me how much I wanted for a small picture of geraniums in terracotta pots. It was an 11 inch X 14 inch oil painting. I just loved it and really didn't want to sell so I hadn't set a price for it. I told the lady a price off the top of my head of $450. That seemed a little high for a little painting so I fully expected her to say it was too much. Instead, with no hesitation whatsoever she asked “Will you take a check?” Must have under priced that one. The money was a nice consolation and I went on to paint a larger painting that was similar. They eventually became a series so I don't miss the first one so much.
Some of my artworks have much more time and effort in their making. Of course, I charge more for those. I finish knife paintings much faster than the pictures that I paint with transparent glazes. I price them lower even though they are lovely and painted with skill. When pricing your work, consider all these factors and do your homework. Check out other artists in your area. Are they similar to yours? What sort of prices do your competitors ask for work of a similar skill. Get the opinions of artist's you trust. Consider your venue. Gallery or art show? A gallery will take a percentage of your sale. Don't undercut your gallery when you sell from your studio or at an art or craft show.
I hope this clears up at least some of the confusion. The bottom line however, is this. Charge what the buyer will pay and a price you are comfortable with. A little experience and these guidelines should help. Happy painting!