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What to do with unsold inventory?

I have about 60-70 unsold paintings kicking around. Some of them are framed, others are not. They are starting to weigh on me and I’m wondering what to do with them. Donate paintings to fundraisers? Take the paintings to a thrift shop and donate them? Maybe they should be painted over with white and used for studies? What do you do?

I would suggest you go through them and keep the ones you really like. Just because they haven’t sold doesn’t mean there isn’t a buyer for them. I have posted older paintings that didn’t originally sell and they clicked with buyers the second time around. Other older paintings have been found by buyers searching for a particular painting. I have over 500 in my Gallery.

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Where do you sell? Look for other avenues to place your art. Maybe its time to expand your selling area. Maybe your library or coffee shop would let you have a show. Have you tried Etsy, Ebay, Artfinder, etc.? What kind of marketing do you do?

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I agree with the previous ‘posters’. I am happy to say that sometimes I realize by looking at the pieces hanging around that I have grown as an artist and I can no longer look at the work that is ‘less than’, but I know someone might be happy to get it for a buck or two so I donate to Goodwill nearby.

Or if I know the piece is good, I just leave it in my online gallery and like this week-a piece that has been hanging around for a year or so, sold out of the blue. Ya just never know.

And not very long ago, an artist I admire very much messaged me and asked for my address, then sent me a great 8"x8" for free that she had done which hadn’t sold after a year! I was very glad to have it! :heart_eyes:


I forgot to mention that I have just recently made a category in my DPW gallery ‘going going gone’ with a piece or two that’s been hanging around. I don’t know if I will keep it, it was just an experiment.


I just went through my inventory with a sharp eye and pulled “offline” all the work I deemed old, did-not sell, needs review, needs work. I am revisiting them one by one. Some I have changed the size of (canvas sheets) and the composition changed. Some I’ve reworked (I don’t seal until they sell), some are donated, and some will probably get shredded! LOL
I actually have an idea to do some mixed media pieces from my shredded old paintings! Guess I’d call that “repurpose” them!

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I love that idea to do some mixed media with some good parts of some not so good whole paintings!


Wow! that is so nice. How did she know that you admired her? Did you make a lot of comments or what? Anyway, very nice gesture on her part!

Yes, I gush at my fave artists, and I have been ‘watching’ them for about 10 years now… Yes, it was a super sweet gesture!

Hi Terri,
Unsold paintings are a problem for me as I tend to stick them under the couch or somewhere else where they will be neglected. If I create something that I hate, I gesso over the canvas and start again.
Here are a few suggestions that have worked well for me regarding unsold work,
Contact your local library and see if you can exhibit. Also check out neighboring town libraries, banks, restaurants, hospitals and your town hall. Most are very receptive to an art show. Some take a hefty commission, others take nothing. My local library takes 30% of my sales.
Ebay is ridiculous although I have sold over 30 paintings on there but it is painful process. I don’t know about you but I am not in the business of selling art for $10.00. That doesn’t even cover the cost of my paint or my canvas/ paper.
Finally, don’t sell anything you don’t like. Rework it instead.
Selling art online is very tough not to mention time consuming. That is why I am encouraging you to somehow get a local show.
Hope this helps,
Hilarie Johnson

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Hi Terri-Anne,

  • Have someone critique the paintings. I once did this for a friend of mine. We sorted the paintings into three piles – ones that were good just as they were, ones that just needed a little tweaking, and others that needed major overhaul. (She was so happy that she gave me one of the paintings which is still a favorite to this day.)

  • Sometimes when critiquing small paintings, I made a color copy and paint on the color copy to show what I would do to improve it.

  • A friend once lined up five paintings in front of three close artist-friends. On a 3"x5" card, she asked each to rank them most-liked to least-liked and the reason(s) for not liking the least-liked. Interestingly, there was consistency in the least-liked painting and the reasons.

Less than successful paintings represent a learning opportunity. A chance to experiment with nothing to lose – and you can come out the other side a better painter because you know how to solve problems in the future when they present themselves in your paintings.



Any luck with “Going going gone” category?

No! Haha. I had forgotten about that.