What to Do with Old Art Works


# Offer the Art for Sale at Reduced Prices

  sale sign photo


In order to sell their work more quickly some artists will offer older work in a “bargain bin” at their open studio event, or at a show. The price may be dramatically reduced. I’ve come across some artists offering older work at 50%-70% off the original retail price. Is this a good idea?

The Problems with This Approach

  • Discounting in this way offers several problems for consideration. Firstly, the older work can be a distraction from your new work. You would be better off holding a retrospective exhibition and honouring the work’s place in your creative timeline.
  • Secondly the pricing of the older work can be a distraction. The bargain art may make your regularly priced work seem expensive and prevent sales – not the desired outcome at all!
  • Thirdly, if the art is greatly reduced it devalues the work you have already sold to other collectors.  You can put your prices up but generally speaking you should never put them down.

# Hold a Studio Sale

junk sale photo

Another idea is to hold a kind of art yard-sale at your studio. This sale may target existing collectors, or it may be an opportunity for friends and neighbors to acquire your art at prices more suited to their income. However rather than heavily discounting, you would be better to do something like buy 1 at full price and get a second with 10-15% off. This way you are offering a reward for their purchases.

The Problems with This Approach

  • If you target existing customers you risk training them that they shouldn’t buy your current work, but should instead wait for your work to age and for the price to decrease. When what we want it to do is to increase over time.
  • You may find that if you are targeting existing clients, that they end up feeling they paid too much for the initial piece or pieces they bought. It could also make them nervous about collecting your work in the future as they may think your work has become devalued and therefore is not as collectible now.
  • If on the other hand you are targeting your neighbors they may feel that even at a greatly reduced price, the work is still too expensive, or they may feel they don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on your rejects.
  • The other thing to be very mindful of is that you never want to undersell any galleries that may be representing you.


This Weeks Question: What do you do with your older artwork?  I would love to hear any ideas you might want to share with us. 

Look For Next Monday’s Post: 


Photo by Stewart Black

Photo by Goran Zec

Photo by Eastlaketimes

What To Do With Older Work – Some more ideas.

Idea #2 – Re-purpose the Materials to Create a New Art Exhibition

  • Many artists  take old canvases and paint an entirely new painting over the top of an older work.Some of these pieces are totally new compositions, while others modify older imagery.
  • Many abstract artists work in this way, allowing glimpses of the old work show to through as texture, tone or colour, in the new piece. An artist who regularly works in this way, although not necessarily using old canvasses  is Flora Bowley you can see the underneath elements showing through in her work here.

Repurposing old artworks


  • Many sculptors do similar re-purposing by melting down an old piece to cast a new work (not recommended in most cases).

The Problems with This Approach

  • Not all art materials lend themselves to being reused, and sometimes the effort it takes to prepare used materials isn’t worth the effort.
  • If you particularly struggled with the old painting, then it does not have a good energy in it and wont make for a very good foundation to the next work.
  • Unless you have some clarity around the image you want to build out of the older  work, it can be a difficult task .

Flora Bowley has written a great book that will help you work intuitively into abstract painting, if that is your thing, it is called Brave Intuitive Painting

Exhibition Reminder

Older Work,Exhibition in July



The opening to this exhibition is this Saturday the 18th of July at 2.30 pm.  See all the exhibition details in the flyer above.  I I would love to see you there if you have time to come along.  Please come up and say hello if you do. There are going to be drinks and nibbles, the latter being provided is being provided by the new cafe in the art gallery.

If you feel so inclined you could go for a coffee afterwards and a wander through Japanese gardens.

This Weeks Question: The same as last week!  Have you supported your local artists recently? Attending an exhibition opening is a way of doing this that really boosts them and doesn’t commit you to anything.

Look For Next Thursday’s Post:  See how the exhibition went.




Stored Paintings

What To Do With Older Work

Storing old artwork can become a huge challenge, especially if you have built up many works over the years.

This can be the case even if you are only a hobby artist – what to do with all those learning brush strokes?

Studio space is at a premium, and every square inch that is taken up in storage, is a square inch that’s not available as work space. This is even more crucial if you don’t even have a dedicated studio space yet!

Idea #1Rotate Your Works – Including Older Ones In Current Inventory

  • Sometimes older work didn’t sell, not because there was something wrong with it, but because it simply didn’t wasn’t in the right place at the right time to get a buyer.
  • If your work is consistent over the years in terms of style, technique and quality, then rotating your art can be a viable option. The older work can be shown in galleries or at shows or at art festivals
  • Make sure there is no date on it and no one may realize the work is older if you don’t tell them.
  • Pay careful attention to the state of the work.  Does it perhaps need to be touched up, given a new frame or is the backing getting a little tatty? Refreshing your older work in this way allows you to leverage your existing work to bulk up your inventory.
  • Paying attention to older inventory can be particularly important if you have orders coming in for your work and you can’t fill them.

The Problems with This Approach

  • You may find that  your work has changed significantly since the older work was created. This means it may not be possible to show it with your newer work in current gallery spaces.
  • In this case, introducing older work may make your body of work feel inconsistent, or it may call into question the quality of your newer work.
  • Many artists pass through major changes in style, format, and even the medium they use over time. This can make it not feasible to reintroduce the older work.
  • The other MAJOR thing to avoid at all costs would be to avoid sending a piece to a gallery that has already had the work.  This would be a major blunder, unless of course they requested it. The only caveat to that would be if you had significantly reworked the piece.

I would like to acknowledge the expertise of Jason Horejs in the crafting of this article, as I have referenced his blog post of the same topic.  I have only used some snippets of his post here. You can find much of interest for the marketing side of your art career, at his Red Dot Blog.

At a later date I will be posting more thoughts on this subject.

This Weeks Question: What are you doing with your old paintings?  Do you have any ideas you would like to share?

Look For Next Thursday’s Post: What’s happening with the ShoreThyme Exhibition?



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