Archiving Artwork Online

A painting I made in art when I was about fourteen

Sometimes we have drawings or paintings we are not particularly proud of, but they have sentimental value. As amateur artists, should we keep everything but our best work away from the public? Will it detract from our “reputation” if we publish the less than perfect work that we created in the past? I used to think that. until I misplaced a drawing I really liked, but found that I did have a photo of it online.

Here’s what I think about it now: when we write a novel, it is good to print up a hard copy, because something might happen to the original electronic file. When we draw or paint something, it is good to make an electronic copy, because something might happen to the physical artwork.

Another very early painting of mine that used to hang in my grandmother’s apartment

Do we have to publish everything we want to archive? No, not necessarily. But even with my most  imperfect paintings and drawings, I don’t feel so ashamed of them that I don’t want to share.

Take these two paintings that  I made in art class when I was fourteen, and I was just learning to use acrylics. Clearly they are amateurish in so many ways, but I still like to look at them, and I think there is something to learn even from the obvious mistakes.

If we do not expect everything we produce to be perfect, but there is some joy in the overall effect, why not share it with others. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to look.

This is a photo of a sketch of my children that used to hang in the pens. I don’t

A sketch of my kids that has disappeared.

know what happened to it.  It just disappeared. I did not even notice it was gone until very recently. But because I had written about it on a site that has since gone defunct, I was able to find the electronic file. I think it is worth preserving, because it is a part of my artistic endeavor, even if it is a deeply flawed attempt. Maybe someday I will try again, using this sketch as a reference point for a brand new painting. I feel better knowing that the sketch will be available to me online, even if the laptop where I found it today and its hard disk are damaged.

Watching how our artwork improves over time is best served by having available for comparison some of our less developed works.


About Aya Katz

Aya Katz is the administrator of Pubwages. When she is not busy administering, she sometimes also writes posts like a regular user.
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2 Responses to Archiving Artwork Online

  1. Sweetbearies says:

    I like your artwork, and I think what is considered “good” is quite subjective. For instance, some of the highly regarded modern artists just throw paint on a canvas in five different directions, and people raved about this. In a college art history class, we had a graduate student who taught a discussion section for this course, and she was brave enough to admit to us we were not uninformed if a certain piece of art was not inspirational, and to go with our instinct. I remember as extra credit assignment she suggested we go to the university photography museum, and write our impressions of an exhibit. There was one photograph that just looked like porn with a photograph of a tree, and a woman with her legs spread open sitting beneath it. A young girl was with her mom at the exhibit, gawked at the photograph, and said yuck and walked away. I wrote about this experience and said I felt the same way about this photograph that was considered high art, and the TA told me she happy there was finally a student who was telling the truth. She worked at an art museum as well, and she said over the years she learned to trust her instincts more. After this experience, I finally felt okay saying art is what you create and feel moved by, and even if a piece is not “perfect”, who says it is not more enlightened than the guy who splatters paint in five different directions on a canvas. To this day I am convinced those artists probably just produce anything as a joke to see if the art world will rave over it.

    • Aya Katz says:

      I agree. Much of the acclaimed modernist art isn’t anything more than a political ploy to see what the art world and the public will buy. At the same time, I also know many representational artists who are much more talented and dedicated than I am, who are completely overlooked. I think we can just forget about about apologizing for our imperfections and strive for the best we can be, competing mostly with ourselves, rather than each other. I do still feel that I am improving with time and practice.

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