Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Setting a Limit

Summerfall, 36 x 30, oil on canvas

One of my galleries just sent an email asking for new paintings. I'm always happy to send out new work. In fact I don't keep many paintings on hand at the studio. What's the point of that? Nobody sees them here.

The problem with this gallery's request is that they don't want to send back the paintings that they have. Most of my paintings are on the large size: 24x30 - 30x40. I think 6 pieces make a good display. More than that can be over whelming. (I also do smaller paintings, 8 x 10, and don't always include those in my "count")

The other reason is for my own protection. I've had galleries go bankrupt. A friend of mine had work in a gallery that was destroyed by a natural gas explosion. Limiting the number of paintings protects me from huge losses. When a painting sells I replace it with a new one as quickly as I can.

Of course, there are some exceptions. In case of a show, or if a gallery has a long track record with me I'll send more work.

What are your thoughts on this?


  1. Hi k. I've thinking about this very topic because a few friends of mine have many paintings tied up at their galleries - some for more than 2 years and the gallery isn't selling and is asking for new work.

    I suspect these galleries have some of the work in storage, but they are asking for new work in order that they might make some sales. It's my personal take that artists should limit how long a gallery keeps their paintings (in the artist/gallery agreement). Many times an artist can remove a painting from one gallery - ship it another and it sells right away.

    Recently, I've seen some galleries suddenly go out of business and the paintings are not returned to the artists. If a gallery has not sold any of my work in a while but is asking for new work, I'd wonder if they're doing OK. I'd send them new work when they ship back some of my work (even if I have to pay to have them shipped back myself).

    I was recently in Scottsdale and there are empty storefronts now. One artist I know has more than $50K tied up at a gallery - and no sales. Yes, this gallery sold for her in the past, but nothing since the summer. Shouldn't this artist be able to get some of that work back?

  2. Lori, good to hear from you. Yep, if a painting hasn't sold in 6 months (sometimes a year if the gallery is a 'Seasonal' gallery) I contact the gallery telling them I'd like to exchange paintings. Most galleries are thrilled to do it. Some of them really don't want to let go of older work (not sure why) but I make it clear : No returned work = No new work.

  3. K. thanks for your response. That sounds like a good way to handle it.
    "No returned work - no new work".