8 x 10 oil on panel Available on Etsy $65
What do you do with old paintings that don't sell? We all have them. Usually they are pieces that were done when learning a technique or starting out on an artistic journey, they may even have had gallery space, but they never found the right connection with someone. This one below, Single Red Female, is one of those pieces. Its been shown in exhibitions, available online, yada yada, but hasn't found its forever home. Its on my hit list for removal.
For me, I paint over pieces where possible, depending on the surface and medium and recycle them that way. I may keep a photographic record - or not - depending on how painful the image seems to resonate with me. But it is transformed into something new. It may take elements of the original that are incorporated into a new piece or it may be totally obliterated and disguised.
Trotting out old pieces over and over for sale at reduced prices is a bit disrespectful for collectors who have bought from you at full price and tends to devalue your work. The occasional studio sales is fine and we all have them, but not for old work that isn't the best, its for genuine unpredictable sales of usually small pieces that may not be gallery worthy but still quite beautiful for someone looking for an piece of original art.
The ultimate of course is destroying the piece. It eliminates it from view, it confirms that you have moved on in your art career and that nothing becomes too precious. Fire is the all consuming and a little caveman-like method, but quite satisfying. Simply tossing pieces out with the trash becomes fraught with danger as they could be 'rescued'. And would you really want your rejects on display or worse still, resold without your knowledge perhaps even under a different name? No, permanent destruction or disfigurement prior to trashing them is required to ensure you don't lose sleep at night (or potential revenue!).
How do you eliminate old work that doesn't sell? Do you recycle, eliminate or pass it on?