Thursday, September 3

What to Do with All of Your Paintings?

Today’s Image
Watercolor on Paper
Copyright 2009

Today I’m going to blog about a problem many artists have, well some artists anyway; OK maybe it’s just me.

What to do with all the paintings you’ve finished, but which haven’t found a home?

You know, we’re not all Monet or Pollock or Hirst, and our paintings (OK, my paintings anyway) have not exactly flown off the shelves. They’re not flying off yet anyway—but I’m an optimist.

Today’s Image is a watercolor I just finished and framed. It’s stacked on the floor, carefully so it doesn’t get damaged, with all the others. Now what?

First, I think all those paintings that you and I finish that go nowhere need to have a name. Of course, you could call them “my paintings,” but how un-creative is that? How about “my personal oeuvre?” Or maybe “the masterpieces in the studio.” Sometimes I think simply “the bastards” would work, too.

I mean, depending on how fast you paint, it doesn’t take long before you’re falling all over them as you make your way to your easel or other workstation. I’ve been painting steadily for a couple of years, and even though I’ve gotten rid of (and I mean that in the nicest way) some of my paintings, those that remain seem to multiply like rabbits. And I don’t paint that fast.

I suppose I could store them in trunks in the attic. I guess they don’t make trunks anymore, but maybe in those plastic container boxes you see stacked everywhere in Wal-Mart and Target.

And they’re not the kind of thing you can just give to everyone as a thank-you or whatever; not like flowers or a box of chocolates anyway. Most people aren’t necessarily that happy to get your paintings as a gift either; or maybe it’s just my paintings (oh dear).

Early on, in my naievety, I thought some of those trendy coffee/wine/sushi bars would be begging to have some of my art cover their walls for the patrons to enjoy. But no, for all kinds of reasons that sounded pretty much like “we don’t do that kind of thing here” with an almost audible hurrumph!

There seem to be two camps. It’s either art galleries, art centers, or one of the many art shows (many of which are for good charity causes) who are so serious. They usually have a jury, or least a guest juror, who must have had a bad childhood art experience (I’m sure of it). Anyway, they decide who among us is good enough to reach that wavering, arbitrary cut-off point to “make” their show.

In the other camp, and I hate to sound this way, are the places where you may not want your art to be included. These are the thousands (upon thousands) of seasonal art shows or “festivals” that include among other things as art, dough earrings and what I’ll politely call papercraft. You may as well sign up for a swap-meet.

Of course, it’s nice to have a ready inventory of paintings on hand, I tell myself, so there’s always a good variety to choose from. Right.

There is an exception to the above-- the Twitter 140 Art Show—now in exhibit, is an excellent example and venue for a non-juried art show. My compliments to the organizer and artists.

But seriously folks, what is the solution to this? Leave me some comments or ideas, please!



  1. Of course this requires a large amount of disregard for your own hard work, but it's theoretically possible to simply paint over old paintings (medium providing). Yeah, I don't think I'm quite that unattached to my work yet.

    But it's an idea!

  2. Yes, I forgot about that one. I usually count overpainting as an advantage of using acrylics, but it's like abandoning one of your children.