UPDATE: I’m pleased to report that my painting sold for $550. Apparently there was spirited bidding among 3 young lawyers. It’s also great because there was another well established, well known Edmonton painter with work up for auction and his 2 paintings went for $300 a piece. 🙂

This last year has been my most productive period of painting ever. If you’ve read my first post on this blog, Outside Lilooet, you’ll know that I took an almost 20 year break from painting. But since I began painting again in late 2013, I’ve managed to complete almost 20 pieces (?), some of them quite large (for me anyways).

I am really thrilled with not only what I’ve produced, but the range of styles & techniques I’ve used. It really feels like I’m learning with every new piece.

One thing I have -not- learned is how to let go of these pieces. Since I’ve put my work on Twitter and with friends and acquaintances seeing what I’ve been doing, people have been asking me if/when they could buy my work.  The answer has always been “soon, but not just yet”. I’ve said I am trying to get enough work together for a show, which is true. I’d love to do a show. (No idea how but that’s a learning bit too right?) The truth is I just haven’t been able to let any of these pieces go.

Now it’s not that I still have every piece that I’ve ever produced. In the 90’s when I was living in Calgary, I made a lot of metal and glass work which I sold through a couple of galleries there. It never really bothered me as most of that work was functional art. Maybe even “craft”. I never did present any of my Old Paintings to the galleries.

It’s also not true to say that I still have every painting I’ve ever done. Some of my favourite pieces hang in the home of family members. Even though some of them are hundreds of kilometers ways, I still get to visit them, even if it’s only once a year. To truly say good bye to a work that I really like has just been unthinkable.

However, in that last couple of months I’ve realized I also have a problem with that. I think it’s part of an artist’s job to get their work where other people can see it. Or if it’s not their job, it’s required by their ego (or mine at least?). I certainly get a huge thrill when someone tells me they love something I’ve created. Who wouldn’t?  To sell a piece is further validation. “Not only do I love your work but I’m willing to spend actual money on it so I can look at it everyday.” -That’s- validation.

The other purely practical issue with keeping all my work is that I simply don’t have any more wall space. I hang everything but I’m now at a point I’ve got to take something off the wall if I produce something new. We live in a condo so we don’t have a lot of storage (or any, really) so I’m starting to pile things in my “studio” which is also our yoga & meditation room. The clutter is not good feng shui and it’s just asking for paintings to get damaged. I’ve already poked a hole through a canvas. Thankfully it was blank.

So what to do. A couple of months ago I decided I really needed to get back at doing yoga classes or I’d seize up entirely. I’d done yoga for about 5 years when I injured myself and had to stop (and then failed to restart for two years). I also knew that the bass player in Kim’s band was have the same sorts of old man issues I am having and I convinced him to come to yoga for the first time ever. Due to a few issues, Steve missed the first couple of classes but after his first class, he came out saying “That was awesome.” The problem was that the next week’s class was cancelled because of a teacher’s workshop. Steve said “Can we get together and do it ourselves?” (yes he liked it that much). I said, “Sure, come over to our place and we’ll go through a class.” I can actually hold a decent yoga class because I’m so unbendy I’ve done the same Level 1 class for over 5 years. I can’t -do- the postures, but I know what they are and can explain what we’re supposed to be doing (well enough for  raw beginner who is as unbendy as I am at least)

Steve had never been to our place so had never seen my art. Our living room is pretty much a gallery as every inch of wall space is covered so as soon as he walked in he saw pretty much everything I’ve done in the last 8 months. He told me that he really wants to buy “The Kiss“, but Kim also says that it’s her favourite. I’m not sure who will get it. After our yoga class, which went quite well, we had some lunch. Steve is a family court judge and he told me that he’s organizing the Rock & Robes a fundraiser for YESS.org. It’s a night of live music where all the musicians are lawyers & judges (yes, that’s a thing). He said that he’d love me to donate a painting to the silent auction. I was flattered but didn’t give him a firm yes or no. I still couldn’t imagine giving up any of my work. Over the next few days, Kim pushed hard for me to say yes and finally I did. I didn’t know what I would donate but I had a month or so to figure it out.

At first I thought about donating one of my old pieces from the 90’s but I figured that really didn’t showcase what I am doing now. And despite this being a benefit, it -is- a showcase for my work. I also thought about some of my recent paintings like Learning Jazz or Bashaw Moonrise but I really couldn’t bring myself to part with them. They are so different from what I’ve done in the past, I am not ready to see them go. I think I’m still processing them somehow. I did have that problematic work in progress piece that I mentioned at the top of It Was A Good Week. I decided that it was a good size for the auction, and if I could make it work, I would be prepared to give it up. I thought somehow landscapes are something that I’ve done so much of, that it wouldn’t be quite as difficult to see go to someone else.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and it’s finished (and framed!).

"Winter Solstice at White Sands" 20 x 26 Oil on Canvas © 2015 JayB
“Winter Solstice at White Sands” 20 x 26 Oil on Canvas © 2015 JayB

I am pretty pleased with it and with the feedback from Twitter, Steve and other members of the organizing committee. (“That is absolutely stunning! Wow. A fantastic donation!!”) 🙂

Kim also fell in love with it. “That is soooo much like the lake. You’ve captured it perfectly.” Then she said “Please, please don’t donate it. I want it!” I guess I’m not the only one who has issues letting go.

Despite Kim’s arguments and the fact that I really do like how it turned out, (even with my ambivalence with it at the start), I stayed firm and decided it was going to auction. Last night I took a couple of pictures and said goodbye. A bit sad but also excited for it to move on. (and hoping it brings a good value for the auction.) It gets delivered today and I’ll probably never see it again.IMAG2155On posting about this, two of my Twitter artist friends independently gave me the same advice.

https://twitter.com/_timskinner/status/572958413040312321

Wise words on letting go.

I did attach a note to the back asking for them to send me a photo of it in its new home.

One thought on “Letting Go

  1. Jay, I love the way this turned out. The waves on the lake complement the aurora in the sky above. Fabulous!
    Lol, I’m trying to deal with this attachment problem too. My works are on paper, most of them unframed, stacked in piles on shelves. Easier to store, but then I never get to see them displayed.
    Thanks so much for blogging about this. It’s encouraging to know how other artists face this issue.

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