After we’ve been painting a few years, most of us have stacks of paintings under our beds, in closets, stashed here and there. As you may know, I am strongly in favor of neatness and lack of clutter, so I tend to throw old paintings away. Some artists, especially people who do collage, argue that you should never throw anything away, that it might come in useful later. Besides the fact that I resist saving stuff, I don’t have a studio and work in the “family room,” so space is shared and at a premium.
Some artists, such as Barbara Nechis and Christopher Schink, argue that it is good to throw away old, not so good paintings. We could keel over at any time, and if we leave a lot of not so good paintings behind, well, that is not to be desired. Out with the old and in with the new. Toph tells a funny story about putting some of his old paintings in the trash and watching as his gardener took them out, looked at them, shook his head, and put them back.
I have to admit that there are times I wish I had an old painting back, because I’ve learned something new and want to try it on it. Here’s an example of an old painting that was headed to the trash can, when I decided to experiment further on it. It started as trying out a grid with an architectural subject, but it seemed boring, so I stamped on it, added line, used watercolor pencil, and generally made it overly busy. Also, it has all hard edges.
Bird on a Wire
Since it was headed for the trash anyway, I decided to try softening some edges, creating some mystery, and making for bigger, more interesting shapes.
Bird on a Wire Reworked
This is a little better. I like the light shape around the bird and the light shape on lower left. The blue shapes are joined into one better shape. The design is better, but I think it's still going in the trash.