Thanks so much, wpmaster and Rich, for your quick responses. I'm still muddling through reviews of both open source and wp plugins, as I haven't decided yet whether I prefer continuing in html (which I'm more comfortable with), or completely switching to wordpress ...mostly because I want to set up clients to work independent from me in the future, since I am also an artist who needs time to create my own work instead of being chained to a computer every day. (Don't get me wrong, web devs, it's a creative use of one's brain cells, but the eyes and body need a break!)
If I stay with html sites, it's not a bad idea to go with eCart 5 (the updated version of 4) since it integrates into Dreamweaver. However, if I need to teach my clients how to use it, they will have to purchase both DW and eCart... which is beyond most artist's budget and technical abilities. I'd also prefer a solution that offers paypal plus other options.
I hadn't even thought of migrating my html pages into a blog, and that might be an option for getting the design to layout just the way I want it. However, it's counter-productive in terms of seo since I use tables for my layout, which is not as seo-friendly as php programming.
I'm starting to think that I should either combine nextGen gallery (which might help me with the layout solution) with eStore plugin. Wondering if anyone has experience with this... or examples of good artist sites, since I can't find a showcase for it.
I'm really liking the look of some YAK sites I've seen... has the layout features I'm looking for, though I'm wondering if it's a headache to set up. Anyone with experience with these or other solutions for artist's ecommerce sites??
Thanks again for your replies.