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edited June 6 in General Discussion
Has anyone here ever sold a painting and then been tempted to repaint it? I've been considering it. I've kept all my sketches, colour notes and reference photos for the ones I'm considering repainting so half my work is already done if I decide to do it.  And I know the paintings work. But I have some concerns.

Firstly, I worry that it may not be fair to previous and possible future buyers. But, then, how many times did Cezanne paint Mont St Victoire or Monet paint his lily pond? (Not comparing myself to these greats, of course)

But that's only one of my concerns.  I also have this horror of being accused of banging out potboilers. I somehow feel that every painting has to be unique and should be a struggle and a learning experience for the painter. There has to be the excitement of the new and the risk of failure. I don't know that I could bare to just go through the motions for the sake of having enough paintings for the next show.

The idea of redoing paintings would not even have crossed my mind but my last three good ones sold almost before the paint was dry and I've only got six months left until my next show and I'm not sure I can come up with enough new subjects by then. So far I have only two others I would consider showing and according to my contract I need 12 - 14 big paintings for a show each year.

My aesthetic instinct and my moral compass tell me that I should not repaint pictures I've already sold. What do others think? In future I'm not going to show work to the gallery as I produce it because if it all gets sold I'm left struggling to get enough together for the next show. I know this may sound like a non-problem to those still trying to get work sold. And just a couple of years ago I'd have been glad to have the problem. And don't get me wrong - I can sure use the money from the sales. And who knows, buyers may go off me and my past sales may have been just a flash in the pan. So maybe I should just knock out what I can and flog it for all I can get. But, somehow, it just doesn't feel right. 

I've got enough new subjects for another couple of paintings so the problem is not immediately pressing. But I would very much like to hear others' thoughts on the probity of reproducing work you've already sold. 


  • Oh the problems of the greats! I agree with you, if a buyer goes to your gallery they want to be able to tell people they've got a one of a kind. They might get a sour taste seeing a copy.  A lot of artists seem to do the same subject with different colors or maybe at a different time of day. If you already have enough subjects for the next couple of paintings, it might just be a problem that solves itself.
  • edited June 6
    Thanks, @mhqoil. I have no illusions re greatness. But is it somehow wrong, morally wrong, to repaint? Of course, they wouldn't be exact copies with every brushstroke the same. I doubt I could do that. 
  • You can do the same subject from a slightly different angle or perspective, no? To me, it's not a good idea unless you can make it unique somehow.  Otherwise they would buy a print.

    My lawyerly attempt to argue this is that, by not buying a print, buyers are under the impression theirs would be one of a kind at time of purchase. That's normally a feature of buying the original. Scarcity is a big part of the perceived value of art. They want to feel as if the artist painted it just for them and you have a personal connection that's special. If the pieces are copies then their value and price could drop.

    The painters I know of making a lot of money like revok or Mike Dargas do many similar types of paintings, but with small variations.

  • Yes, I think that's right, @mhqoil. I won't do it. 
    Thanks.  :)
  • @tassieguy, interesting dilema.

    I had thought along similar lines in terms of selling prints, which I have decided now not to do.

    Is there any way you can still make something different and use the sketches and notes ?

    Though I see you have now come to a decision.

  • Rob

    Inclined to agree with you about a “contract” with the client to provide unique and original works.

    You can bet the people who watch your new stuff and your prices most keenly are previous purchasers.
    A copy, even similar will undermine your reputation and ultimately your prices.

    Suggest you change your technique to something along the lines of Musgrave Evans as he demonstrates knocking off large canvases in a day or less.

    Six months left will allow you to paint 120 works with weekends off. I remember you saying you wanted to develop a looser style. This is your golden opportunity.

  • Take one day off and drive around to many different places and take as many photos and notes as possbile?
  • edited June 6
    Thanks, @MichaelD. I guess I could try to make them different but I would have to go back to the site and make more sketches and colour notes  - different season, time of day etc, so it's probably better just to do new work from scratch and not have this dilema   :)
  • I agree with the others, don't paint the same painting twice unless it's for your own personal possessions.
  • edited June 6
    Thank you, @Dencal.

     I can't change my technique. I don't have enough learning years left. Took me too long to develop this one. My pictures take between two weeks and a month to complete without weekends off so no knocking them out in an afternoon. It would be nice, though   :)
  • I disagree with Dencal. Your paintings are so much more detailed and immersive than the very minimal abstract style of Musgrave Evans. No comparison for me..
  • edited June 6
    Thanks, @Richard_P. I think you're right.  I won't do it. It goes against the grain. Thanks.  :)

    Who is Musgrave Evans? I'll Google him to see what he does before I try the knocking-them-out-in-a-day-or-less  technique.  :)

  • edited June 6
    Ok, so Musgrave Evans is the big-painting Aussie beard with the mobile studio. His work isn't at all bad. Great colour. He captures the essence of the big Australian landscape. I admire this sort of bold, knife wielding approach but it's not me. My communication with nature is more close up, more intimate. 

    When our state borders open again and I can book flights, I'm going to take a break from the hard Tassie winter and make a third visit to Coral Bay in the north of the state of Western Australia. Should be able to find some good subjects there.  It's a beautiful place with the sort of big vistas that Musgrave Evans likes to paint. But I'll get right up close to the termite mounds between the desert dunes and to the shells on the broken coral beaches. Really looking forward to that. It's so damned cold here now - 2 degrees C with snow on the low hills around our place.. Almost makes me feel good about global warming. Except that all the coral up north is dying from heat stress.  :/
  • I repainted one as a commission and felt fine about it. The first person who bought the original got it through a show so I had no idea who they were. If I had gallery representation it might be different though.
  • @tassieguy. I did a repeat of a painting but only because I wanted to change part of it.  I doubt I would promote both and will likely keep one for myself.
    i think I you did the same scene but in a different season like you say that would be ok but I hesitate promoting a “copy” of the first painting. 
  • So what's your plan? Not selling for the next six months? That might increase the hype and value more! :)
  • @tassieguy 12-14 paintings of the size you are doing would be quite a challenge for me.  It takes me about three weeks to get a little 11x14” one done.
  • I wouldn’t repaint, for the reasons stated by yourself and others. However I’ve seen many artists do the same or similar scenes with different colour schemes or in different seasons which I think would be legitimately different enough to not cheese off the buyer off the original. They may even buy the other as a complement to it...
  • Monet painted 85 paintings of the same haystack, so,........!
  • Renato muccillo has done it. Same composition two times although the paintings look different enough. Exact same composition though
  • Cheers, @gar3thjon3s. Yes, I could paint the same scene in a different season, under different light conditions, different weather, time of day...  But I would have to start from scratch with new sketches, colour notes and reference photos. So not much of a saving work wise but it's definitely worth thinking about.  Thanks.  :)
  •  You said "In future I'm not going to show work to the gallery as I produce it because if it all gets sold I'm left struggling to get enough together for the next show."
    I think that is probably a good idea. As for the rest of it... it's pretty clear that you have a pretty strong moral compass and if you go against it, you are not going to be happy with yourself. 
    however, It's not cheating anyone or yourself to use your photos and notes in a different painting. Different size, a little different perspective and point of view, add a figure or two. It's a sin to have only one painting of those wonderful spots you've visited along the beaches and roadways. A euk can easily grow another limb. 
  • @BOB73, you've given me an idea. I could use a section of my reference again, crop it, to create a new composition and painting. I don't see anything wrong with that. That way, I could use my old colour notes, too. Thanks  :)
  • I totally agree with Bob. Everything he said. 
    And I do sympathise with your dilemma ... because it IS a dilemma , albeit one many artists would love to have. 
    Provided you don’t do exactly the same painting , you have no need to feel you are cheating a past buyer. 
    Look at it this way , all your paintings have your own unique style. They are instantly recognisable as yours. Nobody could copy them if they tried. (I’m sure many of us would like to ) 😊
    So what people want is one of your paintings which has this unique style. And this is what you will always provide for them.  
    Bob’s idea is excellent. And he’s right- it’d be a shame not to reuse those beautiful scenes. 
    The most important thing is that you make a decision that you’re 100% happy with. A decision which won’t cause you to agonise about , to lose sleep over. Because if that happens , the joy goes out of it and it all becomes overwhelming and stressful and just not worth it. 
    Ultimately you will do the right thing because that’s the sort of person you are. You have integrity. 
    And just one more thing ,  anyone who gets to have one of your paintings hanging in their home is very lucky.  And I’m pretty sure they know that! 

  • edited June 8
    You're right, @Hilary. If I don't feel right about it (I don't) then that's probably a good indication that I shouldn't do it.

    But I'm ok with the idea of using part of my reference material in a new format if I can get the composition to work. The painting would be a different crop of my reference material - a different size and shape. I think that would make it different enough. I don't know why I didn't think of that myself.

    Thanks, Hilary and BOB73 and everyone else for your thoughts on this.  :)
  • This thread was long so I didn't read everything so forgive me if this is a repeat of what others have said. My business-minded take is use the same reference if needed, crop a specific and different section of it, use a different color palette, and call it "exploration."
  • edited June 14
    Thanks, @lightbulb3900.

    Not sure how I could use the same reference material but a different colour palette. I'd need to go back to the site and make fresh colour notes. I'm not skilled enough to rely on photos. A good camera is not bad at recording values and very good for gross form and fine detail but I'd have to wing it with colour.. The colour in photos is never right. Especially after you run them through a printer.  I have to be there to record colour with paint. Photos are only good to record gross form and fine details.  I can only paint what I see. I'm just not skilled enough to wing it with colour when trying to paint landscape realism. If I have to go back to the site I'll be starting from scratch. The season, the weather, the time if day and the light and colour are all going to be different. Fortunately, I think I can use my colour notes and photos if I just paint a section, a different crop. That will make the painting different enough. :)
  • When you say colour notes Rob do you mean you mix paint and paint samples in plein air? :)
  • Yes, @Richard_P. I use old bits of canvas or even cardboard. They are not even sketches but just swatches of paint that I label "hills, sea, light on path etc" .  :)
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    I think something should be different in the repaint, otherwise it's basically an expensive print, and cheapens the original.

    I've repainted, but at double size and a different color pallette.

    This is the original, at 9"x12":

    Here is the repaint, at 18"x24"

    Are they the same? They are very similar, but the colors are shifted, the background in either case was made up, simply an abstract representation of the houses. I wanted a warmer shift to the color palette to better indicate the sunset, and more distance, add clouds, and more consistent reflections.

    Ethical problem? I don't think so, I never claimed I would only paint something once. I've now made four paintings off this one reference shoot. In other series, I've painted the same Twix wrapper twice.
  • edited June 16
    Cheers, @PaulB. Yes, I'm going to do something like you did. As long as it's not an exact reproduction it should be ok.  I'll paint a different crop of my reference material and bigger, like you did. Or maybe smaller.  Ether way, it will be different in size, shape and composition which should be enough to allay any ethical qualms and (hopefully) forestall any accusations of banging out potboilers which was my other main concern. 

    I think your repaint is as good or better than the original.  :)
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