Throw Away Those Paintings!


Well-known member
well, maybe not all of them - but

Like comments here under "Storage Issues" - I too have issues. I use to paint on 1/4" MDF... and I have a lot of largish panels (100?) from that era. These are 10 plus years old. If you're not familiar with MDF (as opposed to 1/8" hardboard) it is a joy to paint on - and also weighs a ton and takes up a lot of space.

I have newer work worthy of selling/showing that I obviously want to keep andI've learned the lesson of being too quick to paint over work -- but these are 10+ years old! When I started going thru them they seemed to fall into 3 categories

1. Failures of which I have nothing more to learn from.
2. Storage Queens - a few that I still consider good, or that have a particular nostalgic feeling or represent some aesthetic milestone for me.
3. The vast majority in a sort of middle ground. Basically crude but somehow charming.

Okay for some examples - here's a storage queen - this was the second painting I ever did, somehow still like it despite caveman brushwork etc.
3 course lunch.jpg

then there is the vast middle category - here's a couple chosen at random. Most are silly, crude - but somehow charming.

big top.jpg

So here's where I'm at. Storing all of these is not an option, and probably not a healthy thing to do. I will keep the handful of queens, but what of the rest?

I have a set-up where I can take high-quality stills without much hassle - would take a couple hours (maybe I think///). Then I'll have a permanent record of my travails stored on a thumbdrive that could fit on a keychain - ready to peruse- share-contemplate on a moment's notice. Further, if there were ever a clarion call - I could make poster-size prints. Even today if I wanted to see some of this work I would resort to my web-images - no way I'd want to wade thru the archive. So why am I keeping them? They have become an expensive space-consuming burden. I will still have the images and even able to wall display them if I wanted. All I will loose is half a lumber yard of MDF.
I am rapidly running out of space to store stuff, but then, I am a rather enthusiastic burner of substandard work, so every now and then I have myself a funeral pyre for bad paintings and non-important sketches. One way to deal is to paint so small that I can easily store the pictures in a box. And thus, one of my current enthusiasms is ACEO-sized pictures, which I turn into fridge magnets by simply sticking a magnet to the back. :)
Whelp, I don't know if I could do it. When I dislike something so much, I paint over it. The very old works that I keep like that, that's what I eventually do with them. They make a great texture.

I still sell very old pieces sometimes, some work aren't particularly my favorites, but that doesn't mean they suck. Someone somewhere likes it. If anything, I can give them a better deal on them because I'm quicker to rid them. And, not to toot my horn, but I get a lot of money for them. They may be worth storing.

Yes, I have secretly wished for accidental fires so I can just rid of my storage issue, but I know I'd also be devastated if it happened, especially because there are a good 75 or so that I really do like and are proud of. At least 75. I have made 1000 now, but I have sold all but a couple hundred. Ten years old is nothing to me. I'm in my 50s and have been working seriously since my late teens. Everything I did before that is mostly trashed and are not part of the 1000 and most weren't done with high quality materials. Plus, what's the difference if I store 50 or 300?

I really LOVE the works you posted, so I'm glad you aren't getting rid of them.
I don't keep ANYTHING I either won't sell, give away or hang. I don't even like to paint over a failed one, I feel it has a bad vibe to it!

Now, I have a ton of student work from my kids' college years that they have no interest in and my husband will not part with them!
I felt the same recently and managed to remove quite a lot of paintings I didn't want anymore. This was a first for me and I was really determined to reduce them and so we had a bonfire.
Bongo I love these. We moved country last year so I gave loads away and took the rest off the stretchers and rolled them, otherwise it would have cost an arm and leg to send them, whereas by rolling them it reduced the postage to reasonable amounts.just as well cos we're living in a tiny apartment now and I wouldn't have anywhere to store them.The recipients were good friends who were very happy to have them so its all good
Thanks all for the love, much appreciated. I'm realizing storage considerations should not determine what's kept, rather a considered dispassionate appraisal of worthiness. That should thin the herd some. Repainting not an option for these since I don't want more MDF paintings. I will still take hi-quality print-capable photos which could prove useful at some point.
Bongo, document those images and you never know, you can use them to license out your work for any number of things in the future. I have done this about a dozen times, even on paintings that were already sold because I had really great high resolution images of them--a few for album covers and a couple for book covers. Some were for illustrations in magazines. One guy wanted one for his business logo on his biz cards, etc.