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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Why I Never Throw Away Paintings

'Deep into the Marsh'        5x7           pastel        ©Karen Margulis  2013
 I never throw out paintings.  I know, many say you should cull the bad paintings so they don't weigh you down.  I guess I have the luxury of studio space so I tend to pile up the bad paintings on a shelf. It is amazing how many pastel paintings you can stack in a pile.

Sometimes I go to the 'discard' pile and choose a painting to play with and rework. Sometimes I take a failed painting and just wipe it all off to reuse the paper (no sense wasting good paper or throwing it out!)

There are some paintings I hold on to so I can gauge my growth. Sure you can always refer to photos of your older work but often when we are beginning our painting journey we don't even take photos and we are quick to throw away the 'bad' ones.  There is nothing like seeing these older paintings in person though.  Especially old workshop paintings.  Let me share what I discovered.....

Plein Air Studies from Crow Creek 2013

Crow Creek Farm  Fall  2008
Yesterday I was looking for a sold painting in my studio and the discard pile called to me for some reason. I started going through them. A piece of foamcore with a few paintings attached caught my eye. Hmmm these look familiar!  It's Crow Creek Farm!  These were the paintings I did at the workshop I took with Stan Sperlak back in the Fall of 2008.  Five years ago!  

I looked back and forth between what I did of the same place then and now.  I can see my growth and that is exciting. I can see that I am a better observer. I am more careful and even though I paint quickly I can see that I can now make more deliberate choices on where I place my marks.  I am definitely more confident and not afraid to make a mark and leave it alone.

How did this happen?  By painting many paintings in between the last workshop and this one. If you follow my blog you know I paint every day. It is gratifying to see how it is paying off. So I have two lessons from this discovery.

1.  Save a few paintings here and there. You don't have to be crazy like me and save them all.....but don't throw all of the bad ones away. You will learn from them.

2. Paint in between workshops!  So often we take classes and workshops and don't do anything in between. Sure you will learn something but you won't see much growth in your work unless you practice! I am working on something cool that will help us all with our practice so stay tuned!!

plein air studies from Crow Creek in 2008
Click here to read my workshop reports from my recent Crow Creek workshop with Stan Sperlak


Denise Rose said...

Great post and I have some of my first oil paintings and love looking back at them. Still getting excited about my visit and lessons with you! I can hardly wait!

Lynn Norton said...

Karen - I absolutely love following your blog. You are very generous with your tips and showing your work, which is inspirational. I understand what you mean about painting in between classes. There is always an excuse to do other things, but I really should take a leaf out of your book and do even one sketch/small painting a day. My blog goes quite for weeks at a time, which isn't great for any readers. I tend to do one huge blog and then nothing for ages - need to separate things out more to give "tasters" to the readers and keep them coming back. Good practice for me too! Your workshop with Stan sounded brilliant. Pity I am in the wrong country (UK)! Have checked out his videos though, which I really enjoyed so thank you for the information on him.

Karen said...

Hi Lynn, Thanks for your kind words! I am working on an idea to get us all painting more frequently so stay tuned! Blogging more frequently is just getting into a good routine for it. I do my post in the morning and publish it in the afternoon. Just a habit!
Thanks again!

Karen said...

Thanks Denise! Me too! We will have a great time and get a lot covered!!!

robertsloan2art said...

Of course even your discards amaze me. Seriously, rather than throw them away, you could discount those. Some collectors might want to have an earlier painting from your entire career rather than just your latest best. I can see the way your style has changed dramatically but those landscapes are all ones I would've kept as good ones!

I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels that way. I also know where it comes from - because people I teach or meet will look at something I know isn't up to snuff and go wow over it.

Sometimes they're even right, and a third look will let me see what I got right but didn't notice because I was worried about something else. I agree with you about not tossing discards.

Last, when I was just starting to loosen up, a good many of my better ones seemed like discards while overworked ones looked like successes. I find myself laughing at what I keep as awesome too.

Nelvia said...

Karen not sure how I found you, but am enjoying reading from first post and am in 2006 now. Am note taking many of your awesome tips and also,your teacher as that might be a direction I might go. Looking at the then and the now you sure can see the growth. Since I just retired I am trying to find my way and pulled out all my non -completes which is a failure in my work and have committed to finishing. Might not be beautiful but know I will learn something. Thanks for your daily posts and humor. I feel like I have met a friend in you and your group.

Karen said...

Thanky you Robert and Nelvia for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate hearing from you and learning from you!!