Letting a Painting Go

"Smoke and Water," acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16" by Karen Gillis Taylor

“Smoke and Water,” acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16″ by Karen Gillis Taylor. Sold January 31, 2016.

Sometimes artists have trouble selling their work, saying the pieces seem to feel like “their children”. Have you heard painters say this? I do understand that feeling.

When I worked as an illustrator for publishing companies and magazines, creating art work was more like a job to be done, and then another assignment would come right along. Later I was able to put more and more time into making paintings on my own, and eventually it was time to begin to sell them. The painting work seemed much more personal. It did tug at my heart a bit when a painting walked out the door to the new home of a happy collector. Especially if that piece was created over days and weeks, sometimes working late at night. Could I try to pretend that art was like those illustrations I made with less emotion attached?

Over time, I learned to enjoy meeting the people who have bought my paintings. Some people have even purchased several from me over the years. I imagine those pieces have gone to very good homes where they are appreciated, and this has made “letting go” so much easier.

This painting of “Smoke and Water”, which I just sold, has a different kind of attachment. I remember a conversation with my elderly dad about this piece when I showed it to him in the nursing home. He held it in his hands, very curious and interested. Part of the painting seems to contain what might be an elevated train such as they have in Chicago. He knew about those, having lived there with our Mom as newlyweds. I treasure those conversations about art with him. So when I see the image now, I think of him.

Art is so amazing. It touches people in such personal ways. Even the makers, or sometimes especially the makers.


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13 Responses to “Letting a Painting Go”

  1. Janet Ledoux Says:

    lovely post about letting go. The vignette with your father is perfect.


  2. Melanie McNeil Says:

    So true. Lovely to have the memories, even if not the painting.


  3. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    Awwww…that makes me love this one even more. You should print this out for the person who bought it. Its a wonderful story.


    • Karen Says:

      I did think about that. Maybe I will. But sometimes people like to have their own thoughts on a piece of art, and I don’t want to intrude, know what I mean?


  4. Antje Says:

    What a lovely reflection on this beautiful painting! I have to say that to me the wonderful experience of connecting with nature and objects through painting is the reason I do it. Painting adds a rich layer of beauty to life and this becomes even more special when someone else appreciates the work as your buyer no doubt does. Thanks for sharing!


  5. ARTmoses Says:

    Love it


  6. RMQ Says:

    A wonderful story, Karen. Even though people like to have their own interpretations, they also love to know the story of a painting. Also, as a former longtime Chicagoan I have to agree with your dad. This painting captures the essence of the city.


    • Karen Says:

      Thanks so much for your observations. My family lived in the Chicago area until we moved to CO as young kids, but visited back there many summers. Our experiences as children really do influence our art, maybe more than we think!


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