Sep 1, 2012

Saying Good-Bye to Your Art

I sold a painting today and the buyer asked me, do you ever get emotional about letting go of your artwork? It's odd because I was just having this same conversation in an art forum the other day. Do I feel sad when I sell a painting?

I have to say, normally, no. Normally I'm quite happy to sell a painting. Besides the obvious fact that it means money in the bank, I'm also happy to know someone likes my art enough to buy it. What good is my art if I couldn't share it and no one enjoyed it? Yeah, there are whole debates about who artists create art for. Do we do it solely to express ourselves and not care what anyone thinks of it? Or do we do it to share it with the world? I fall into the latter group. If I knew every painting I ever did would be buried deep in a tomb never to be seen again, I would not bother to paint anymore. Expressing myself is only a small part of it. I want others to see it, enjoy it, and feel the same sense of pleasure I do when I view a representation of an animal, a beautiful work of Mother Nature.

So, of course it feels good to know someone is going to see it, appreciate it, and enjoy it for years to come.

Yes, normally I am quite happy to sell a painting. But, every once in a while I am sad to see a painting go. Or, for certain paintings, I don't even put them up for sale for months or years because I don't want to even risk them being sold.

I was wondering the other day why. Why is it only once in a while I don't want to part with a piece? Sometimes there's no apparent explanation as to why I get emotional about parting with a certain painting.

Finally, during the conversation in the art forum, someone said something that turned on a light bulb in my head. She said it was the "milestone" paintings she had a hard time letting go of. I realized that was it. As I said, the artwork I got most emotional about parting with was not necessarily my best or favorite. But I realized it was my "milestone" work. It was the painting where I had truly stretched myself. I had attempted a challenging new technique or style and succeeded. They are "milestone" paintings in my journey to develop my skills. They mark triumphs over setbacks. They mark achievements despite frustrations. They are special paintings on an emotional level. And, yes, letting those milestone markers go is sometimes hard. But, at the same time, it is very rewarding. It means I achieved what I wanted and someone noticed. Someone appreciated my efforts and loved the results. What more could I ask? It is a bitter-sweet separation.

If you're an artist, what do you feel about letting go of your work?

If you're an art collector, have you ever had an artist get emotional about your purchase? What did you think of it?

Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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