Today, I received an email asking me for advice on what to do with older paintings, paintings from college or paintings that we are not "proud of". Here was my response. If you have any ideas, I'd like to hear them.
I have to make this short because I'm in the middle of writing an article for Workshop Magazine and have gotten several personal requests for advice in the last few days.
Some of my most famous mentors have a bonfire - they actually burn the paintings they're not proud of because they don't want them on the market - especially after their death. They don't want collectors to pay big bucks for poor paintings just because they were done by a famous artist.
Some of my older paintings that I'm embarrassed by, I throw in the trash section at the dump - where it's immediately scooped up by the bulldozer. Not only do I want anyone to get a hold of them, but they play havoc with my self-esteem and take up space in my studio - which is at a minimum.
If It's a decent older painting, but doesn't live up to what I do now - or not good enough for a gallery (but definitely not ready for the bulldozer), I cover my signature or else don't sign it and leave it the "recycle good stuff" portion at our dump's recycling center. I make sure there is no information on the painting that shows it's my work. This protects my reputation and also the investment my collectors have made.
I never give away my "bad" work. I destroy it by sacrificing it to the bulldozer. When I had a studio in an old mill building, I gave my older watercolors to the paper artist across the hall who chopped it up in her blender and made paper out of it. The colors made some pretty neat designs.
However, I do occasionally give away good work as gifts. If a painting doesn't sell in one gallery or show, I put it in another. Sometimes a different audience causes it to sell right away. But if I'd tried several venues without any sales success, (and the painting is pretty decent), I either keep it for myself or give it away. If I really like the painting, I add it to my own collection.
Don't get too attached to your work. Try to be as objective about it as possible. Strive to move to the next level of expertise. It's Ok to keep a few pieces from college for sentimental reasons or to see how you're improving, but you may not want to show them if they don't make you proud.
Hope that answers some of your concerns.
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Demo in Winter WC Issue
I haven't had a chance to update this blog in quite a few weeks. Nope, haven't been sick or anything bad. In fact, I've been having a lot of fun writing articles and blogs, and one of the highlights of this summer was attending a workshop given by Donald Demers in Boothbay, Maine.
Next month, I'll be writing an article about that workshop for American Artist Magazine's Winter Workshop Issue. I took lots of great notes and step by step photos of Don's demonstrations. He is a super good teacher. I might add that his is the best landscape workshop I've attended thus far. I hope to return again at some point and paint along with the other students.
Boothbay is a delightful place to paint. Just like Acadia, there are scenes everywhere you look.
I'll need to write that article before the end of September, and my next article for Watercolor Magazine is due in early October. The WC magazine article will be the first in a series about "composing the landscape".. this one will deal with foregrounds specifically. I've wanted to write on this subject for many years, and I'm grateful to the editors at American Artist for allowing me to write my own instructional column.
Additionally, the Am Artist editors are giving me a bi-monthly blog along with their other editors. This is a dream come true for me. You might wonder why an artist would want to write... well... it's because I don't feel as good about what I do if I only spend time alone in my studio. I want to be a contributor and share my experiences with other artists - many who are just starting to paint for income.
Finally, I'm getting more involved with working for Clint Watson and Fine Art Studio Online... now called FASO. In addition to writing for the fine art views blog, I'll be reading around the web and linking to interesting blogs and articles for artists' reading pleasure.
While I'm not getting as much time in the studio, I'm thankful that a few galleries are willing to take a painting or two for special exhibits. Since I'm spending a good part of my week with writing for art publications, I expect to paint only 10 to 15 paintings this next year. The ones that I don't sell at shows will be available from my website.
My wish is that I will be able to contribute to other artists' lives and careers in a positive manner. Please let me know if you have any ideas about how I might do that. I can't work with artists on an individual basis because I don't have time or really the inclination to do that, but I do want to talk about subjects that can make a difference.
PS You can follow my links on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/Loriwords