It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes a painting gets laid off… because it isn’t working.

This painting was fired because it wasn't working!

This painting was fired because it wasn’t working!

When that happens an artist has to decide whether to destroy it, donate it, or salvage it in which case you have to figure out when a painting doesn’t work.

Such was the case with a painting that I completed in 2012. It was shown in a couple of different galleries and it just languished on the wall without selling. It did receive some compliments regarding the colors in it, but still there it was on the wall. It wasn’t what I would call a bad painting, but something was certainly lacking.

So, I took it home and decided to give it a good look over after having been away from it. My response after seeing it with a fresh eye was Yuk! No wonder it hasn’t sold. The painting was…well…YAWN, boring!

When I painted it I was using a different studio, and despite being a nice set up it was prone to having distractions. I never felt at home in that surrounding and wasn’t very happy. So maybe my mood was influencing me. Now in my comfort zone and regular studio space I realized that my painting never achieved what the original scene upon which it was based offered.

I realized I needed more contrast, punch up some of the color intensity, redesigning some sections and even eliminating some distracting areas that didn’t support the composition. So I removed the varnish on the painting, and reworked it. Now the painting is back to work in that it captures the mood I experienced when I happened upon this scene. Now, I don’t yawn when I look at the painting.

So what do you think about the changes? Click on the images for a larger view.

Cypress Colors Original

Cypress Colors Original

Cypress Colors Revised

Cypress Colors Revised

As an update to this post, I placed the above painting in one of my eBay auctions with a Buy it Now option. It immediately sold through that option at my asking price. So, rescuing the painting and making some adjustments gave it new life and a new home. If you’re an artist perhaps try such a approach with your own paintings that have been “fired.”


  1. Mary King

    Thank you for this interesting article. It is very helpful. I have dozens of these “fired” paintings in the closet.

    1. whartist Post author

      Thank you for commenting Mary. I have another suggestion for those fired paintings in the closet of yours. Take them out and examine them once again such as I did with mine and see if you can determine what it is about the painting that bothers you. That’s half the battle. Also look to see if there are sections in the paintings that you like and perhaps could be cropped into a smaller painting. With a little ingenuity you can use these paintings to help with fund raising auctions. Artists are often asked to donate something to a particular cause. Now you’d have something on hand. They can be used as Thank You gifts to a special person or as a marketing tactic. If you do indoor or outdoor art festivals generate some interest by using one as a giveaway by having a drawing to win the work in exchange for getting a persons contact info and email. This can help build your email list for prospective customers. I figure if they didn’t like the work, they wouldn’t put their name down even if it was free. And if a painting is back on track and now working, be proud, display it and offer it for sale.


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