Clean up and throw away old paintings

I have been on DPW for one year, off and on active. Looking back at many of the older paintings there are some I think are painted poorly… Question is “What do you do with old painting that have not sold.” and are just sitting.

I keep reading that you should only put up your best work. I also read you should get another artist or gallery owner to curate your entry into a competition because we are to emotionally attached to our work. But before you throw away anything, get a journal and critic your piece to learn from it so you won’t make the same mistakes. Maybe you’ll find darkening the darks is all you need and reworking can make it a masterpiece.


thank you Andrea, I will give it a try.

When some of my older DPW pieces look bad to me, I just hide them (there is a checkbox allowing to hide a painting so that it’s not shown in your gallery), but if a piece sits there for quite some time and still looks okay to me, I don’t touch it - sometimes people buy stuff that has been in the gallery for months. As to reworking, with those small daily paintings I prefer to start from scratch (with bigger pieces it could be different), but I agree with Andrea, it’s useful to try to figure out what is the problem with a painting that doesn’t look good. BTW, I checked out your gallery and I think all your paintings are beautiful, and I wouldn’t remove any of them.


I agree with Irena…your paintings look great Glenda.

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Thank you Anne. I guess I expect the paintings to move a little faster than they do. I appreciate your vote of confidence. I really am learning a lot when I post. I helps me decide if I even like the paintings. :slight_smile:

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I am thinking of your words Glenda and realise I feel the same way. I regularly go through my postings evaluating and mentally judging them, removing those I feel are not ‘worthy’. Then I remember that others might like the ones I reject. It happens. I changed a painting once and then had someone ask for the first one!

However, I do think a few tweaks and changes to my gallery pages prevents it from getting stale. I hid or removed several this week.

I feel like this is always a question in the back of your mind as an artist cause as you progress you look back at older pieces and realize quickly all the problems with them so you start to look down on these pieces for not being as good as what your producing now. I feel like that’s just part of the process with being an artist and keeping up older work is always a good idea cause people can also see the progress you’ve made. Sometimes yes I too take down paintings that either haven’t sold in a long time or I simply am not a fan of the painting anymore. This shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, with these paintings I’ve taken down I’ll either give them away as a gift to family and friends or if it’s just bad I’ll simply sand the painting down and re gesso to use as a new piece (unless it’s watercolor paper of course), think about it as recycling and reusing.

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Oh no, some one ask for the first. I really don’t think I have that much traffic for that to happen. I did take of the ones i really didn’t like, sanded and spray painted. Will paint more. Thanks so much for answering me Anne.

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Cory, thanks for writing. I did recycle. Sanded and sprayed with a primer.

When I recycle an unwanted oil painting, I worry about the integrity of new layers and adherence issues. Would acrylic gesso bond to old oil layers? My thought would be to either paint directly in oil or if that was too distracting, to first cover with one colour of oil.


Hi Gary, You are correct about not painting over oil with acrylic gesso. I sanded then sprayed an oil primer.

I often wonder about the wisdom of re-using an older painting and covering over textured parts. So many times I have painted a new one over an old and tilt it slightly to see marks and bumps from the old one. Annoying and can ruin a piece.

Maybe it is best to scrap them and start again with a smooth canvas/board.

Hi Anne, I have been painting oil most of my life. I have tried every thing to save a dollar. Many times it didn’t work. I have scraped, sanded and relayered paint on CANVAS with Oil Ground by Gamblin. Problems the oil ground is too slick, never use Acrylic over oil the acrylic will not adhere to the oil. You could use reprimed as a study for yourself but not to sell to the public. If the material is Canvas, I would repurchase or cut the canvas off the stretcher bar and reuse the stretcher bar with new canvas. The cotton or linen boards I will usually toss.
The Ampersand Gesso board is a little different… I didm’t really have a problem redoing because of the surface. I sanded smooth with a hand sander then spray painted with a neutral oil primer… extra flat, no gloss or semi gloss.
This is only what I would do. Like I said, I have repainted over many through the years… I only used them as studies. They just don’t paint or feel as good as a new canvas.

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I totally agree Glenda…it is not often that they turn out really well. I only paint with oils so I don’t have the acrylic problem…like you I always use an oil coat to prime over oil. New canvas or board is always best way to go. Unless I am perking up a dull looking painting. That is a different matter.

Yes, I agree. I paint from life as practice one night a week every time I try to save money useing an old board or canvas my study doesn’t doesn’t look good.
The surface is too different for delicate work but it might be great for a ruff landscape painting.

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I am in the same boat! I wait as long as I can, then cover old painting with gesso, one for oils, then sand. I do find some lines remain sometimes, and that can be tough. In a perfect world it would be wonderful to just use a new canvas, but I can only store so many. So far my method is working ok for me. I did learn that you have to use gesso for oil as I accidentally bought one for acrylic, and its sucked all my oil up and looked awful. I find I am continually learning with being an artist.

I had another ID on ebay and I just sold very cheaply the older pieces I didn’t like…which shows I had improvement -however slow. :slight_smile: People were happy to have them at that low price and I was able to pay for the supplies. Win:win.

Then I had some I could not even look at! Anything that bad (:poop:) isn’t even worthy for selling, should be tossed and as a matter of fact I could get some satisfaction to see it burned! Haha. I’ve heard some artists like Carol Marine would have an annual party with some peeps to get rid of those unsightly ‘less than’ paintings called a ‘Bad Art Destruction Party’! Could be therapeutic to destroy them. I know it was NOT good for me to keep them around, they just brought me down!

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