Keeping Records of Your Paintings

21-keeping-records.jpgKeeping 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.

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6 thoughts on “Keeping Records of Your Paintings

  1. Mollie Moore

    I enjoy reading the articles on how to preserve our paintings; I think it is an excellent idea of the numerbering system, etc. I want our grandchildren to be able to share this info w/their children in yrs. to come!

  2. Diane Edwards

    I also would really like to know the code that you use. I think it is #of painting…Pastel…Date…??or Year…then I don’t know. I really am wanting to do this also. I keep renaming paintings or forgetting their names or duplicating names!

  3. Katherine Tyrrell

    Very nice blog post Richard.

    I’m developing a small series of posts about organisation and records at the moment and will make sure I reference this one in my next post. I’m also going to reference it in my Art Business Squidoo lens – so you may get a few visitors as a result.

    (This is now my sixth or seventh try at posting this comment!)

  4. cmcernetisch

    this is a step i have planned as a ‘new year’s resolution’. i confess to horrible recordkeeping, but will change that this year. you have this ‘code’–can you please elaborate on the code itself? alot of info is harnessed to that code, so how did you come up with the code itself? thanks!

  5. Mike

    Would you be able to show an enlarged image of your artist statement? Not only would I like to read it I would like to see how it is written for my reference.