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Can You Part with Your Art?

September 3, 2008

"Clouds" - AOC, 60 x 36"

“Clouds” – AOC, 60 x 36″
Collection of the Artist – NFS  (or $100,000

How many times have you felt remorse when you sold, gave away, traded, or lost a piece of your art? Gone forever, perhaps, never to be seen again? I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard artists say they simply couldn’t part with an especially-treasured piece. They know immediately after a work of art is finished that it is so far beyond their usual work that they can’t consider selling it.

That has happened to me once or twice. But I’m mostly over it, and the cure is to create more art. With experience, you realize there are better and more exciting things to follow. But still, there is that occasional work of art that comes from somewhere else outside ourselves, when we are in a place of perfect flow.

I do keep a few of my paintings that I might consider above average for my capabilities, and sell or happily give away the rest. One or two of them are paintings that I still look at and wonder where they came from, and wonder why I still can’t repeat a particular elusive quality. But that is such a personal thing. I do know that many other works that I considered respectable, but not necessarily above average, are enriching someone else’s life.

Years ago I had a painting stolen out of the classroom where I was taking a course at the local community college. I’ll never know whether another student just simply needed a canvas to paint on, or whether someone absolutely loved that piece and just had to have it. It was hilarious, because I thought it was perfectly awful. But I was flattered.

One of my paintings that falls into the “keepers” category has been away for almost three years. I’ve mentioned this before in this blog, because that painting is in the hands of the owner of a gallery that closed a few months ago. He still promises me he will get my work to me, but messages are getting fewer and further between lately. Still, I have to admit to myself that even if he hadn’t closed the gallery, I still trusted my own heart enough to know that I could sell it and send it out into the world where others could derive the same joy from it. That is a destiny still possible for that particular painting, no matter what happens.

Do you have a story to share about a special work of your art that you have kept, because you know it came from “somewhere else,” that you feel you could never approximate again?

20 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2008 11:18 am

    Nice Post. I can completely relate. Although, the times when I have the most difficulty parting with a piece isn’t when I feel it’s particularly good but when I have a strong emotional attachment to it. There are just some pieces I’ve painted that simply by looking at them transport me back to a state of mind or specific time in my life. It’s not that I can’t part with the painting it’s that I feel like I’m giving that memory/glimpse of me away. Granted, that isn’t always a bad thing.

  2. September 3, 2008 11:40 am

    That too, Amanda! I do know what you mean. Thanks for stopping by and for contributing to the discussion. Love your work!

  3. September 3, 2008 11:57 am

    This is a coincidence.!
    i have just brought home from a galleryr one of my all time favourite paintings that I painted a year or so ago, it has been hanging in a gallery and had a couple of interested quries and almost but not quite, there is a home for it somewhere.
    Far to many of my paintings I peronally like and am reluctant to let go of

  4. September 3, 2008 12:07 pm

    Chris, do you feel differently about it now, one way or the other, since you’ve been away from it? It happens to me sometimes. Are you secretly glad you didn’t sell it?

  5. September 3, 2008 12:18 pm

    There’s a painting I did some years back called “American Wedding”.
    It was originally intended to be a personal piece to remain in our collection, but I ended up selling it to a gallery in Brussels. They requested the painting and the sale was part of a 30-piece solo show over there…I just couldn’t pass that opportunity up.

    Luckily, we at least kept a giclee of it, which I see more as a “snapshot” of an old friend.

  6. September 3, 2008 12:35 pm

    John, I understand perfectly about weighing the pros and cons of whether to part with a piece. Sounds like you made the perfect choice.

    I’ve learned now to at least get a good high res photo of every painting before it leaves the studio.

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