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Keeping track of our finished paintings and the “lives” they’re having is something we shouldn’t overlook. When they’re fresh in our minds, we remember them, but let a few months or years pass by, and it becomes more difficult. Without good records, you’ll struggle to confirm a title for a specific painting, the place where it was painted and when, its size and outer frame dimensions, the medium used, the exhibitions and galleries where it has been shown, and the purchase information.
So, long ago I implemented a system (though not perfect) that has served me well. I devised a code to be placed on the back of every painting, and created a record in a logbook that references the code. Keeping track of paintings with just a title often leads to confusion
(“A Morning Walk” is hard to distinguish from “A Walk in Morning”). And
I work repeatedly with certain sizes and extensively with pastel and
oil, having that information doesn’t help either. On the other hand, the code leads me to the exact painting and its history.
To keep a consistent chronological order, I place the code on the painting after fitting the pastel into the frame, and then enter its information in the logbook. That way I know the initial entry is made. The discipline arises in keeping the information updated. To help, I keep the logbook in my office where all my painting correspondence happens, making it easier to open the book in the moment and make the necessary addition. If I didn’t, it would be too easily overlooked and eventually forgotten.
On the back of each painting (as you can see in the photo), I place the code, title, medium, my name, copyright symbol, printed artist statement, and glass care information (when utilizing specialty glazing). The logbook entry contains: the title; medium; artwork dimensions; outside frame dimensions; location or inspiration for the painting (a brief description); a photograph of the painting; and a chronological record of exhibitions (both accepted and rejected); awards; gallery consignments (including asking price and sale price); and the purchaser when available. All this is referenced to the code number.
Keeping track of our paintings history is a wonderful way of looking back at those incremental accomplishments and our individual growth. Instead of carrying all that information around in your head, rely on the logbook and free the mind for future paintings.