1. Home

What to Do With Paintings That Don't Sell

By June 1, 2012

Follow me on:

"Can you please tell me what does an artist do with the paintings that do not sell. Gifting them is one idea but what else?" -- KK
  1. Keep them in storage racks, for the day when your art becomes more collectible.
  2. Donate to fund-raisers (but only those you're still happy with; if in doubt about whether you still like a painting, don't part with it).
  3. Paint over those done on canvas (ideally remove any varnish so that later it doesn't cause problems for an art restorer).
  4. Take a painting on canvas off the stretchers, turn around, stretch again, and paint on the other side.
  5. Tear up paintings done on paper for collage.
  6. Recycle paintings on paper into hand-made paper.
  7. Use them to celebrate Bonfire Night.
  8. Add them to landfill (i.e. throw it "away").
Any other ideas? Post a comment below!


June 1, 2012 at 1:31 am
(1) Tina Jones says:

A few of mine inevitably end up as gifts. “Demands’ may be a better word for them or “confiscations,” as my daughter keeps ending up with them. They might even be, “evidence,” and I’m unsure how it keeps happening. hehe.

June 1, 2012 at 4:45 am
(2) Marion BE says:

@Tina Confiscations… love it!

June 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm
(3) Anne says:

I hang mine on the walls of my home in different rooms. I rotate them, so as I do them, they get hung and seen. Some I give as gifts. Some I keep for exhibits. The not so good ones, I put in drawers and paint over them again.

June 2, 2012 at 7:11 am
(4) bes says:

Definitely give them away as gifts, birthday cards etc..then at least they can throw them away, or have the problem!
I didnt really start ‘painting’ until my 60′s, and my
biggest nightmare when I was taken to see a friend’s 80 something neighbour who painted – she had her paintings on her walls but then proceeded to show me her cupboards, closets, eaves under the roof/attic….unfortunately I think it put me off random painting, I have to really think about something now before I start it…’what am I going to do with it? I also am guilty of not finishing many painting unless there is an objective…gift, project etc.

June 2, 2012 at 9:15 am
(5) Karen says:

Have a “cheap art sale”! And by cheap i mean anywhere from $10 to $40 .A friend of mine did that and he got rid of a lot of old paintings……plus made a few dollars.
Many people would like to buy art but cannot afford it. By doing this you get rid of the old art, make some money and make another person happy in being able to purchase something they like, a win, win for all.
I’m getting ready to have mine soon.

June 2, 2012 at 11:26 am
(6) Rani Damien says:

Put up a sale for charity so that you can contribute to some good cause.Also you can get your paintings sold which will encourage you to create more works

June 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm
(7) Mary says:

Barter for services you might already get or for service that might be
a luxury for you, such as a massage or a reflexology treatment.

June 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm
(8) Mary Sull says:

Barter with someone for services. I did this with a
reflexologist. She traded 5 one hour sessions for 2 small
matted and framed paintings. They were good paintings and
she really liked them but did not have the cash to buy them.

June 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm
(9) sandy beebe says:

As a painter I see the value in using a piece of art work to its fullest potential.If its a print worthy piece and it could serve some commercial application..Have them printed on to loose canvas banner materials and sell them for such as decorative flags or adds ( use them for advertising) Make them functional .I have seen some of the most beautiful art in the world as a label on a box of tea. Or a bottle of wine. silk screen it on a tea shirt that says ” I DID THIS “on it.
My major was painting and printing and i love/enjoy them both ..I am also inspired to look back over and see the work i have done in the past .though I mostly afford the basic hand printed stamp stencil occasional silk screen printing..its all been what i call passive printing . i do love the option of one day affording a process of photo polymer stamp making i think as an artist i would have a lot to contribute to this industry …and it would open up my ability to print details of my art work that i can not hand cut.I have been doing the hand cuts for a long time i feel like its time for me to graduate to photo polymer.All this older work will just lend inspiration to whats possible

June 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm
(10) Joe says:

I belong to a small art league and we are going to have a starving artist sale this fall in the hope of getting rid of our closet collectables.
They will be sold unframed for cheapie, cheapie.

June 3, 2012 at 10:51 am
(11) R gane says:

Try to sell them at sidewalk sales, yard sales, gift shops, farmers mkts, consignment stores. someone will buy them.

June 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm
(12) Nancy Goodenow says:

I have about 10 hanging in a local restaurant. I offered to hang them there for thier decor. If anything sells, they would get a commission. And people get to see them! I have asked my family to select what they want and my grandkids also to save for later. I have some hanging at the hospital.
I am thinking of having an auction. I donate to Relay for Life and the Rotary fund raiser each year. I do not want to resort to yard sale, I think it lessens the value. I show in a local gallery and I can put “make an offer” on my pieces, with the gallery taking a percentage. I find the small ones that are priced under $100 created interest. Being in a small town, people just do not spend that kind of money on art. I keep the best ones and I keep the prices in a competitive but not a giveaway range. I also have made some small copies for small price and made photo greeting cards and have sold some of those for $4. ea. Van Gogh died with over 700 paintings!

June 4, 2012 at 11:08 am
(13) Lissie Mills says:

Personally I feel it is unwise to ‘sell cheap’ as it can devalue your work. Here are some other ideas:
* Using a viewfinder, look for interesting parts of the painting to tear into rectangles which can be pasted onto card for greetings cards, or smaller cards to use as business cards at your next exhibition.
* Study a ‘failed painting ‘ and redesign it then paint it again in a different medium.
*Find an area in a painting which you could use as a starting point for an abstract.

If all else fails, make into paper, put in the compost heap or send to recycling. Happy painting !!

January 30, 2013 at 10:00 am
(14) Ellen Walton says:

Why not invite two or three fellow artists over and ask them to bring some of their “discarded” paintings and each take each other’s paintings and alter and expand the existing painting in their own style. See what happens. Not only a good time but it could be fun seeing what someone else would do to the painting. It could change into an impressionistic or take off into another direction all together.

January 30, 2013 at 11:23 am
(15) Kat says:

I find myself having a hard time letting go of old works that I still have here. at some point it will be a record of what I have done. even though I never like the old as good as the new, My style gets stronger with each passing year,

January 31, 2013 at 1:22 pm
(16) Anne says:

Donate the unwanted ones to a thrift store.
Sell them at a yard sale.
Raffle them off.
Keep them as examples of what you can do and have done.
Give them as prizes for games and contests, say at a party or
social event.
Use them to help decorate a friend’s or relative’s home or office.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.