The Painter's Keys Community For Artists

Search the Painter's Keys:

« Over the risky cliff

· previous clickback ·

Catatonia »

· next clickback ·

Join the world's largest art community and get the twice-weekly art letter.
Subscription is free.

Absolutely free, no strings. You'll get the valuable twice-weekly letter and be joining the world's most active art community.

Robert's worldwide gift that artists love to get.


Consecutive numbering

January 4, 2013

Dear Artist,

Around the turn of the year several artists wrote asking about the numbering of works. While you can start doing it any day you choose, January the first seems to be the day of choice. Questions arise: Should you numerate when you start the work, at signature, or when delivered? Also, is it necessary to maintain a separate list?

There are some numerically-inclined artists who maintain progressive lists that include date, elapsed time, title, size, media, location, destination, weather conditions, how they were feeling, etc. I've occasionally tried this sort of hyper-listing but soon found myself adrift. In my case, the act of painting has always trumped accountancy. Also, all my life I've fought the sense of preciousness that accountancy promotes, and have been suspect of those who have succumbed to it.

There is, however, considerable value in keeping a simple system. If you believe that volume breeds quality, then numbering can be of service. Numbering can build the golden habit of persistence. Particularly when dates are included, numbering also flags fallow periods, dream bouts, distraction, and wanderlust. There may be psychological and qualitative pitfalls in numbering, especially when it's done compulsively, but, by and large, guilt-free numbering is a root of progression and joy. Numbering brings modest order to chaos and is a reasonable, unobtrusive way of keeping track.

If you believe in not dating your paintings, as I do, and yet you want to number your work, you might do it cryptically so that only an inner circle will be privy to your game. "13-1" is okay, front or back, but it really lets the world know that this was the first born of 2013. "5026-1" utilizes the currently disgraced Mayan calendar and is a little more esoteric. The artist's current age followed by a number is a popular system. Bar codes are currently undergoing consideration.

Whatever you do, don't let your system run you. That would be like having a CGA watch you paint. The main thing about art is joy, and maybe life's too beautiful for some forms of keeping track.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "Order is a necessary condition for making a structure function." (Rudolf Arnheim) "Chaos breeds life; order breeds habit." (Henry Brooks Adams) "One needs to have chaos in order to give birth to a dancing star." (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Esoterica: Apart from occasional really bad paintings, my biggest regret is that I didn't number my paintings on the works themselves. My Neanderthal file-card system, as well as occasional periods where I kept track, is all folks have to go on. At this point in my creative journey, an exhaustive photographic record would be worth its weight in lapis lazuli. Alas, it didn't happen. It's too late for me--but perhaps not for you. Incidentally, you might choose to numerate once in a while, just for fun. At the top of the current clickback we've included a painting with cryptically embedded info. If you can find it I'll recommend you for a top job at the CIA.





Book winners announced


(RG note) The correct answer was January 3, 2013. Only about 30 got it right so it was indeed cryptic. The book winners (the first ten who got it right) were Julie Jarvis, Alec Blair, Titania Michniew, Andy Giger, Shirley Peters, Helga Gravitt, Linda Spence, Bruce Argue, Gary Norrish and Catherine Constable (in that order, Catherine's correct answer coming in at 4.35 AM PST Friday morning). We've written to all of you to confirm your mailing address and in most cases your free book is already in the mail. Thanks so much to everyone who participated. It was really fun reading all the answers.While a few folks didn't notice the numbers in the shadows or thought the encryption was in the totem or in the number of trees, pretty well everyone noticed the word "ACATL" in the shadows on the left. If you Googled those letters you would have read: "Day Acatl (Reed) is governed by Tezcatlipoca as its provider of tonalli (Shadow Soul) life energy. Acatl is the scepter of authority which is, paradoxically, hollow. It is a day when the arrows of fate fall from the sky like lightning bolts. A good day to seek justice, a bad day to act against others." 4 - Acatl (reed)
4 - Acatl (reed)


This insight led folks to think I might be using the Aztec calendar. Another check would have identified the numbers in the shadows on the right of the painting 13. 0. 0. 0. 13 as Mayan for January 3, 2013 (last Thursday). Further investigation of this number would have led you to: "The thirteen-day period (trecena) that starts with day 1-Itzcuintli (Dog) is ruled by Xipe Totec, Lord of Shedding, God of Seedtime. These are 13 days of devotion, companionship, self-sacrifice and love. This trecena points to the eternal conflict that tears at every human being: suspended between two great communions, love and mysticism, each of us strives to survive being swallowed whole by either. On the one hand, the painful shedding of illusions, and on the other, the pleasurable creation of illusions. Whatever your decision during this time, you will find favour and advancement. These are good days for commemorating the dead; bad days for clinging to the living." 1 - Itzcuintli (dog)
1 - Itzcuintli (dog)
I'm not sure whether Dorothy (the Airedale) did any shedding that day, but I did see her shaking a bit. Also, my assistant Sarah looked around this messy studio and said something like, "We've got to shed this place of some of its junk."


  Share this with a friend


The sixth world of consciousness
by Gary Smith


What is it about the current fear among so-called artists like yourself with regard to dating your Bowling lawn<br>original painting by Gary Smith Bowling lawn
original painting
work or "consecutive numbering," whatever you want to call it. The legitimate world of art has held the chronology of work as an integral part of an artist's legacy. To somehow dismiss it as irrelevant and arbitrary is tantamount to rendering yourself insignificant. You have also topped yourself in arrogance to refer to the "current disgraced Mayan calendar." You would do well to study the real meaning of 12/21/12--the coming of the sixth world of consciousness. And when it comes to consciousness, we could all use more of that! Don't you think?



There are 7 comments for The sixth world of consciousness by Gary Smith

From: wes -- Jan 08, 2013

So called artist? Really? If there are prizes for gall, you win Gary.
Personally I get all the consciousness I can handle.

From: Jim van Geet -- Jan 08, 2013

Didn't notice a signature or date on your painting Gary! Perhaps a verso?

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland -- Jan 08, 2013

I googled "Gary Smith, artist", and eventually found you. Really disappointed to discover you're Canadian. Having visited Canada a few times I'd formed the opinion that it would be hard to find nicer people anywhere else in the world. You're letting the side down, Gary.

From: W.C. -- Jan 08, 2013

Gary: so called artist??.your work is stunningly in need of a great artist like Robert to correct. Sorry your life is so upset by such arrogance as displayed in your comments.

From: Jackie Knott -- Jan 08, 2013

Of all things, I've never considered my lack of bookkeeping skills an indicator of insignificance in my painting or my writing. Neither do I give a rip about legacy.
"Legitimate world of art" is a classic oxymoron ... there is no such thing.

From: Lila -- Jan 08, 2013

Gary, I number my paintings and I know what 12/21/12 means. To whom should I send my legitimate artist submission form? To you?

From: Mary -- Jan 15, 2013

Why then in the 'legitimate world of art' – aka antiquities and the masters – do researchers so often have to search for dates and, for that matter, a work’s attribution? A consecutive numbering mandate would certainly have made their lives easier.


Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Valuable habit
by Martha Dillard, VA, USA


Fairly early I began keeping an inventory list with consecutive inventory numbers. This has morphed Ladder to heaven<br>mixed media painting by Martha Dillard Ladder to heaven
mixed media painting
onto the computer using a searchable data base that lists title, year of completion, size, price, a column with a $ if it has sold, inventory number, brief description, plus a column for owner (name and address), current location, and a column to indicate who (what gallery) sold it. While I don't bother much with listing the current location or the "who sold" bit, the rest of it has proven valuable over and over again. I cannot imagine not having this searchable reference, and try to be diligent about keeping it accurate. By the way, I do not date my paintings but put a cryptic code on the back that tells me the year in which they were completed.



There is 1 comment for Valuable habit by Martha Dillard

From: Jane B. -- Jan 08, 2013

Lovely image!


Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Revealing the hidden artist
by Terri Horricks, Belleville, ON, Canada


I always look forward to reading your twice weekly. It is very comforting (and often quite hilarious) Outlet river<br>acrylic painting<br>18 x 36 inches by Terri Horricks Outlet river
acrylic painting
18 x 36 inches
when you bring to the surface thoughts that, as a painter, are subconscious. Your letters give me a peek at a part of myself that usually remains hidden. Sometimes it's like hitting my funny bone! Being part of the 'hood' makes the creative life that much more bearable! Thanks for the inclusion.

On another note, I recently read several Canadian gallery advertisements in the Arabella Magazine that used samples of your work in their ads. With that kind of representation you must have a lot of business to take care of that takes you away from your painting. Do you dress as a painter wherever you go, or is there a suit and polished shoes stuffed away in that trunk of yours as well? Just curious.

(RG note) Thanks Terri. In 2012, by choice, I had only one show. The jacket and polished shoes came out for only three hours.



Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Numbering and magic
by Carole Smale, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


I never thought of numbering or even signing or dating my paintings so maybe that is a new year's resolution. I think true artists pluck the feeling of the age out of the air and foretell the future. I would like to be an outsider artist, but perhaps I'm not mad or obsessive enough, so I just paint what I love. I am crazy about baobao trees at the moment, the place of the ancestors in local lore. We went to Zimbabwe many years ago and I still remember a man that could call lizards by making a curious clicking noise, so that has been incorporated in my work. I have just read Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murahami, so the entrance stone is also there. I found Zimbabwe a really magical land of curious rocks and ruins from the ancient people. Deep holes in mountains with bottomless pits of water. I want my painting to be as magical as Kafka on the Shore.



Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


The well-rounded brain
by Jim Oberst, Hot Springs Village, AR, USA


Having been an engineer in a previous life, I enjoy the technical aspects surrounding my art. I have Off Prince Edward Island<br>watercolour painting by Jim Oberst Off Prince Edward Island
watercolour painting
an image of every non-throwaway painting I've ever painted (I've been painting since 2004), and a simply-encrypted numbering system to track each painting. I've found this system very useful, especially when I paint similar but slightly different paintings of the same subject. It simplifies tracking sales (which are mostly from the internet and direct interaction with students and clients), sales taxes due, expenses related to individual paintings, and posting paintings on Facebook, websites, blogs, etc. When I paint, my right brain gets a workout. When I do the associated accounting and marketing, my left brain is exercised. I believe this keeps my brain well-rounded.



Website Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


The convention of signature/date
by Janet Kerchner, Arnold, MD, USA


I don't number my paintings, but do date them below my signature, plus I photograph them and keep a Untitled<br>original painting by Janet Kerchner Untitled
original painting
binder record of completed works. This is especially important for keeping track of my commissioned portraits and as a receipt of my sales for tax purposes. In your painting I like the mood set by the cool palette and the direction of the totem's faces staring off into the wilderness. Interesting band of orange set above the mountain ridge. I'm assuming that was not actually there, but an accent to balance out the few snippets of warm color found in the foreground. I tend to get hung up in painting only what is actually in a scene and fail to make use of creative ways to add excitement to make a painting become even better than reality. Thanks for writing your letters, I really look forward to them.



There is 1 comment for The convention of signature/date by Janet Kerchner

From: Nan -- Jan 08, 2013

Oh my: what a beautiful painting. The light. A lovely beginning to my day. Thank you, Janet.


Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Don't let anyone run you
by Phil Chadwick, Southampton, ON, Canada


Hamlet and I think that the answer might lie in why we number our art. If record keeping Kindred spirits<br>oil painting by Phil Chadwick Kindred spirits
oil painting
is for you and family so that you can leave a legacy for those that truly matter, then by all means, number and sign away! I can bring up an image of my art from 1967 in an instant. It immediately brings back a flood of memories and makes me smile whether the art is good, bad or even ugly. Numbering allows me to keep track of memories and to enjoy and share them again. Making art is for making memories. In the early 1980's I used a cryptic numbering system but I forgot how to decipher it – sadly I am not making that up.

If you number or don't number because it might turn off buyers or galleries or someone else you might accidently empower with controlling your life then that might not be a good enough reason. As I have matured... even gotten older maybe... I have become more resistant to others telling me what I should do. I may be just as immature as I was when I was 16, but now I have the years and freedom it brings to do what I want. This being said, I couldn't agree more with Bob… "Don't let your numbering system run you. "In fact don't let anyone run you or your art. You have earned the right to paint what and how you want. Empower yourself.



There are 2 comments for Don't let anyone run you by Phil Chadwick

From: Coffey -- Jan 08, 2013

You made me laugh when I read you had earlier had a cryptic numbering system but forgot how to decipher it!! I have tried a lot of systems and over time forgot what it all was for. Gee, it is more fun to just paint, isn't it? Do you think "age" has something to do with the forgetting?

From: Phil the Forecaster -- Jan 09, 2013

It is vital to laugh! Thank you Coffey. When I jotted this text down I called it "To Number or Not to Number... that is the Question" modelled after Hamlet's famous speech. The "to" could have also been "two" but that might have confused some people including myself. I think we tend to forget those things that aren't really that important, no matter how old we are :>)


Website Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Joy of a cryptic system
by Michael Molick, Kansas City, MO, USA


I had a less than productive year in 2011 due to my studio building closing down and a health issue Veiled I<br>oil painting by Michael Molick Veiled I
oil painting
I was tending to. So for the few works in 2011 and the body of work created in 2012, nothing was dated. I started with an arbitrary number--836--and started numbering each newer piece up from there, and each older piece down from there, all my work back to the year 2007. Then, I put a decimal point and the year the work was created. Hence, the next works created in 2012 become 837.12, 838.12, etc. I'll be using this inventory number on my new website that is being created, in a binder with images of my work, on inventory sheets, and sales receipts, etc. Just so that no one picks up the pattern, my work is in alphabetical order on the website and in the binder. I'm creating a computer-generated table for my inventory so if someone knows the painting name but not the number, I can quickly re-sort the columns by painting name to get the number, then pull the painting off the shelf, which is arranged numerically.



There is 1 comment for Joy of a cryptic system by Michael Molick

From: Janet Badger -- Jan 08, 2013

That makes me tired!


Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Looking for the 'heart'
by Diane Overmyer, Goshen, IN, USA


I love the thought of using my age - that way, it is a record of the stages of my life. I do think, Roots<br>oil painting<br>18 x 24 inches by Diane Overmyer Roots
oil painting
18 x 24 inches
however, I would rather place my number on the back of the painting. Of course I suppose one could always make a marketing spin of hiding numbers. I read at one time that Thomas Kinkade hid a heart or something like that on each of his paintings. The trouble with that is I think it cheapens the work. I was at a large social gathering one time of a couple who owned several large sized Kinkade reproductions. To my knowledge most of the people there who were looking at the Kinkade prints were not really looking at the art itself; they were much more intrigued with searching for the hidden heart in each piece.



There is 1 comment for Looking for the 'heart' by Diane Overmyer

From: Carol Reynolds -- Jan 08, 2013

Lovely painting!


Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


A biographer's dream
by Barbara Boldt, Glen Valley, BC, Canada


I started painting in 1975, have kept track of my works by an easy method that lets me see when Frost<br>oil painting by Barbara Boldt Frost
oil painting
and what I painted. For instance: O-1 = oil # and date, P-1 = pastel # and date. W-1 =watercolour # and date. It's very simple book keeping. I number my paintings on the back with the title and year, also sign my work on the front with date. In the beginning of my painting life, gifts and donations, Christmas greetings, etc, were not necessarily marked down. But to date I know that I have painted and numbered 882 oils (am working on 2 right now), 392 pastels (several unfinished, not numbered) and 353 watercolours (not counting hundreds of greeting cards over the years). This simple book keeping, which really started seriously in 1980, when I was forced to earn my living with my paintings and teaching, has come in very handy. When K. Jane Watt wrote my biography, Places of Her Heart, the art and life of Barbara Boldt , I realized that I had kept track of my work and various collectors over the years and found that it was easy for her to list my pieces in the appendix.



Website Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


David Sharpe workshops Held in France.  <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>The Workshop Calendar</a> provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>here</a>.
David Sharpe workshops
Held in France.

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look here.



World of Art Featured artist Kathy Anderson, Granville, OH, USA



You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Daphne Nicholls of Kitchener, ON, Canada, who wrote, "You're fostering a neat sense of artistic community while encouraging us to continue our artistic pursuits! I credit Peter Gzowski for bringing Canada into my kitchen. Now you're bringing the artistic world to me in a new way. Thank you! (For a new sense of Canada, as a country of lakes, I highly recommend Lakeland by Alan Casey, a GG's award winner in 2010.)"


If you think a friend or fellow artist may find value in this material please feel free to forward it. This does not mean that they will automatically be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly Letter. They have to do it voluntarily and can find out about it by reading our Welcome Letter.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Consecutive numbering...

From: Brigitte Nowak -- Jan 03, 2013

I began documenting my paintings when we bought our previous computer (about ten years ago) and a digital camera. As a painter who often explores the same subject, from different angles and in various sizes, with and without shadows, in warm colours and in cool, from above and below, I replaced the assigned digital camera number, so instead of "DSCN3045", I saved my image as "Red Canoe5x7", or "Red Canoe, Dancing Reflections" or "Red Canoe, Dark Shadows". With the image and name, it was easy enough to tell apart the 20 red canoes I had created. At least it was until we bought a new computer last year; when the files were transferred, the computer re-assigned the original digital camera number. I now photograph each painting, and print off a hard copy of the image, with title, size, date of completion and which gallery it goes to. So much for going paperless!

From: Damar Minyak -- Jan 04, 2013

"If you look into the past of a successful painter you will find square miles of canvas" Charles Hawthorne

It must be wonderful, the luxury of fretting over such inane minutia as "how to number my pieces". Toward what end? For the intern historians who will follow after you, and must be tasked with the unfortunate duty of cataloging your enormous contribution to the cultural heritage of the specie?

I would be satisfied with just a few years of happiness, before I die. A few years spent in the company of a woman I could love. Together, we should fill our own museum. Time. Time is the ultimate luxury. And from cradle to grave, there isn't so much for any of us. Spend it better...

~DM

From: Nancy Christy-Moore -- Jan 04, 2013

Robert, I've been numbering my paintings since I decided to paint full-time thirty years ago. I started with 01 and am now at last painting 0852. It's simple sequence. In my records and on the reverse side of the painting I place the number first, then the title and copyright sign, my name, the size and medium and if framed, the framed size. I'm sure the collectors could care less about the numbers, but to me it's a good indication of work I've completed over the years and a way of keeping myself on track.

From: Larry Benner -- Jan 04, 2013

I have been numbering my paintings for years. It's not cumbersome

From: Douglas Simonson -- Jan 04, 2013

When I started out (30 yrs ago), I kept track of artworks (sequence number, size, medium, title, price, owner if it sold) in a journal. Then I bought a piece of software called Filemaker Pro and that made it easy to create a database where all I needed to do was enter the data for each new work in the appropriate fields. Been using it for 20-some years now and so glad I have it! I can look back through my 4000 rough sketches and 1500 larger works and find whatever information I need. It even stores a reference image of the work.

From: Tatjana -- Jan 04, 2013

I am with Damar on this one. Can't see much joy or value in numbering paintings. Love it, create it and send it out into the world – that’s the artist’s contribution. Just keep photos and paperwork associated with shows and sales and someone down the line will be able to figure it all out if needed. The time we live in is not in danger of being under recorded.

From: Jackie Knott -- Jan 04, 2013

.... and another with Damar and Tatjana. Being a hobbyist for years and having sent dozens of paintings "out" that I have no record of whatsoever, it seems pointless at this late date to number my limited body of work. It's limited for a purpose, because not having to paint for a meager living allows me the freedom to write, also a passion.
Do writers keep tally like that? No, they simply list their books.
Some composers number their compositions but often as not the piece becomes recognizable with a title instead. Would Fur Elise be as appealing if it were better known as Bagatelle No. 25? Or does Symphony No. 9 in D minor strike a chord of recognition more so than Ode to Joy?
If one is going to number paintings surely there is some meaningful reason beyond simple bookkeeping; possibly necessary if you work with galleries.
Not numbering our work demands greater effort to come up with a decent title for a painting. "Untitled," regardless by whom, annoys me to no end. If it is worth doing it deserves a title.
The only things that truly need numbers are phones, addresses, scientific experiments, and highways.

From: Marvin Humphrey -- Jan 04, 2013

I see A C A T L, and 13. 0.0.0. 13, but can't figure it out.
Guess I wouldn't make it in the CIA!

From: Peter Brown -- Jan 04, 2013

From what I know of the Mayan Calendar, it is in no way disgraced because of being greatly misunderstood by sensationalists. No credible scholar gave credence to the doomsday scenario. Nor did the surviving Mayans.

The fact remains that nobody to this day has a clue about how the Mayans were able create such an accurate calendar without precision instruments. It is a remarkable achievement predicting a Long Count and a Short Count and 5,000 year cycles, eclipses, and the one quarter day per year that dictates our Leap Year.

The Mayans seem to have known that while Leap Day falls every four years, we skip it on years like 1900 and 1800, but keep it on 2000 and on 3000.

From: Siwon -- Jan 04, 2013

"Being an artist means not numbering or counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn't force its sap, standing confidently in storms, not afraid that summer may not come." (Rainer Maria Rilke)

From: Anonymous -- Jan 04, 2013

The Mayans had help from extraterrestrial visitors. At least, that's what ancient alien theorists believe.

From: Susan Klabak -- Jan 04, 2013

I took a quick look at the painting...looking for the date....It didn't jump out at me, not that I really expected it to. But it made me wonder how easy it is for others to find the hidden messages I often put in my paintings like 'Peace' 'Love' or 'Joy'. Sometimes even I have a hard time finding the words after a bit of time elapses. I like to think that one day someone will suddenly spot the word while viewing the painting and feel a connection with me and feel 'warm and fuzzy' over receiving the message :) Well, at least, I hope I am bringing some, love, joy or peace into their homes, whether they know it or not! For now it's just my little secret!

From: Karen Blanchet -- Jan 04, 2013

It appears that "Facing West" was the 13th painting of 2000. It is a guess because I could not find the 2 but you are not old enough for 1000 and 3000 has not arrived... perhaps. I have a numbering system that is simple enough and I am consistent with it. I number my paintings and drawings with the materials used eg, WI (Watercolour and Ink), my initials KB, enough numbers to leave room for possible thousands 000 and the date 13. So recently I recorded my last paintings for 2012 and it was WKB000612. I gasped at the lack of production this year.....6. I will turn that around this year by eliminating distractions such as teaching and commission work. Paint, paint, paint. Beginning today I am on a new road.

From: Bill McEnroe -- Jan 04, 2013

. I find a simple yet efficient system of keeping track of my paintings is 3-fold. When i finish the piece, I write on it`s back the title, and date , i.e.: "Vermont Farm" , 02-27-12." Then In a simple 7"x10 "ledger goes the title, size, medium and date, plus a very brief description Ex. "Vermont Farm'. Fall colors. Dirt road down left passes ancient barn center left. Split rail fence leading into field right center. Forest - Right. Cumulus clouds." This simple bookkeeping is all I need.

From: Alex Nodopaka -- Jan 04, 2013

Let me add a kink into the system. I have executed artworks that evolved from photo-collages to painting to sculpture to graphic alterations to ceramic interpretations to pen and ink to software manipulations. Those period/cyclical works were distinguished not only by the techniques but primarily by the chronology of dates. I want 25 thousand years down the line for the discoverers of my chefs d'oeuvres to know the sequence of my evolution. In that regard I consider such numbering as having the only importance. Being a collector of dates my only problem is obtaining a chunk from the Lascaux or Chauvet caves for carbon dating! I still suspect Picasso snuck in & did them... lol

From: Mystery Guest -- Jan 05, 2013

This is my method. First, I do not number consecutively, but randomly. Also, I exaggerate the number, so it seems I have produced more works than I have. And, finally, I lie about the date of completion. This all has a purpose.

Through the future, when I have been recognized as one of the "Masters" of this period, my system will create chaos in the world of collectors and art historians, who will endlessly attempt to unravel the truth. Not to forget, the "cliff hanger" anticipation of discovering yet another "previously unknown" painting by petite moi.

Add to all of this, I am certifiably MPS (multiple personality), and each persona has a distinct style, choice of materials, and subject matter. But wait -- there's more!

Because I stretch my own canvas, using a particular cloth and stretcher materials, and because I keep a large quantity of prepared panels available, I expect to die with many many clean panels left unused. Thus, it will be possible for future forgers to fill in some of those missing gaps in my numbering system. Oh, did I forget to mention, I don't sign anything -- although "George" and "Debby" do, but they're not the most creative nor prolific of my personalities.

From: Heather Boyd -- Jan 05, 2013

Acatl is the day. The Mayan Long Calendar date 13.0.0.0.13 translates to January 3, 2013.

From: Marilyn Smith -- Jan 05, 2013

I have record of my oil paintings since 1969-date and numbered. They are listed in a school-like notebook that has lasted all these years. I also have boxes of photos that will probably be thrown out when I die. I have never kept track of my watercolors as they were my "hobby".The last few years I have purchased a sketchbook for the new year and put sketches, thumbnails, ideas and writing about what is happening in my life. It is a journal that I can refer back to for future work in any year. I date my work for my own edification to see changes in my work. I only put current work in shows so the dates don't get in my way. I do all this for me and my own growth as an artist. No one else would care----maybe 500 years from now it might matter to someone.

From: Chris Everest -- Jan 05, 2013

Wow Fun and Games.... I found a little 13 but only after spending an hour trying to decide if you'd invented a Gennesque version of Roman numerals in another area. Also discovered an oblique line CAN be just another brushstroke.

Great Fun. Thanks Robert.

Warmest regards for the New Year to my Canadian friends.

From: Jackie Knott -- Jan 05, 2013

Basically, you've substituted letters of the alphabet for numbers:

Depending on your particular succession of numerology it is the 1st month, 31st day, and 20th painting of 2012, or the 31st painting completed on the 20th day. You've suggested before you work quickly so I'm inclined to believe it is probably the latter, I don't know. That's another thing with numbering ... if you're going to number them you need to make your methodology clear.

Honestly, doesn't numbering paintings have to have some significance beyond placing a collective body of work? Okay, I can look back and recall when I painted something, but so? Those who work with several different galleries as you do must keep track of what you have sent out; that may be the only benefit of numbering.

From: Denise Schlawin -- Jan 05, 2013

I found it!

Acatl is under the bushes to the left. This is the Mayan symbol for year of the reed.
13.0.0.0.13 is under the building on the right. That date is January 3, 2013 according to Mayan count.

13.0.0.0 is December 21, 2012. Add another 13 days on to that and you get 13.0.0.0.13.

This was almost too easy!

From: Skip Rohde -- Jan 05, 2013

The code is under the building and reads "13.0.0.0.13" Exactly what that means, I don't know, but there it is. Maybe it's the year, the number of martinis you've had, how many times you watched "Wheel of Fortune", the current outside temperature, and how many hours it took to do the painting?

From: Barbara Kennedy -- Jan 05, 2013

1300013 - I grew up with a father who hid his signature on every card he sent me!

From: valerie norberry vanorden -- Jan 06, 2013

I do not number my paintings. I do sign date and name; however, my name has changed and is much longer now. For my penwork I've been putting month and year (09-2012) on quite a few. I do like to leave a few works unsigned (penwork) because I believe I am much too egotistical and it does me good to do a little work anonymously. I'm not doing paintings nowadays, I do penwork in Spencerian hand that takes about an hour and laminate it.

From: ReneW -- Jan 07, 2013

Interesting method of embedding into your paintings, Robert. My server has been down for several days so I could not enter your little contest. Anyway my method is simpler than yours. I just put the month and year after my signature. Numbering each piece I do during the month is of no concern to me. In the past, I put information on the back of the painting such as why I painted the subject and where, in addition to the date. Provenance is of value to collectors and historians but not to me as an artist.

From: Pat Sabat -- Jan 07, 2013

I date my work and in separate three ring notebooks keep a running list by date, plus whatever photos, notes, etc. that are associated with each work.

The MAJOR benefit for me is in finding inspiration, ideas, relationships among pieces, etc. when I flip through the notebooks. Plus I can take the info out, place the sheets next to each other and compare and contrast, etc.

This REALLY works, particularly during a less inspired stretch or even on a dark and dreary evening when I'm itching for my next direction. This literally happened last night. By the time I put the notebooks away, I had a list of ideas and possible sketching locations, some notes, was making plans, etc.

SUMMARY: I recommend setting up a dual purpose tool that keeps track of your work plus supports your creativity and productivity.

From: Dean Wilson -- Jan 07, 2013

Under the house is the code 13.0.0.0.13 I realize I will be at the back of the pack for the prestigious award, just needed to let you know you have my attention and support over the last four years. Yours is the only mailing I faithfully read and recommend (yes, I do find the odd individual who does not subscribe to your wisdom).

From: Umberto Lupachino -- Jan 07, 2013

Artists are not natural bookkeepers. If at all possible you need someone--a mother, a wife, a husband--who jumps on work completed and notates the facts of its genesis.

From: Stephen James -- Jan 07, 2013

i recently purchased a copy of Arabella Magazine where you were featured with your latest paintings which I thought were amazing. I am a new painter and i love to paint landscapes. I am using acrylic with limited success often feeling frustrated with my inability to get what i see before me onto canvas in a way that doesn't scream amateur, hokey and lame.In your article you talked about your techniques and i would really appreciate you expanding for me when you talk about punching in marks,glazing and then putting in main shapes in impasto then glazing again then finishing. I never want to copy anyone's work as i really want to figure out this medium on my own but I'm stuck in a rut thinking maybe i need to change mediums like oil. Any feedback you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanks, Stephen James.

From: Russ Hogger -- Jan 07, 2013

I see no need for numbering, just give the painting a title, medium and a size then add it to your list. I put the date on the back for posterity.

From: Ken W Krug -- Jan 08, 2013

Mystery Guest, that is ingenious, I admire you.




top of page | « Over the risky cliff :::  Catatonia »



BOOK OF THE TWICE-WEEKLY LETTERS--10 YEARS OF MORE THAN A THOUSAND UNABRIDGED LETTERS

$35.00(USD or CAD) plus $25.00 shipping in Canada, $35 in the USA, or $40.00 to anywhere else in the world.

TWL Letters

    To purchase with a credit card or PayPal, please choose your location from the list below and click Buy Online.

    |

    Here's a quote from Robert's letter on first publication, November 27, 2009: "It's my sincere wish that you get real and lasting value from it. It's your book, really, and I'd like to thank everyone in our Painter's Keys Community for the inspiration that makes these Twice-Weekly letters happen."

The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letters, 960 pages--ten years of over a thousand unabridged letters including an 82 page index. Six by nine inches and more than two inches thick, this beautiful book is hardbound Red Cayenne with a separate dust-jacket, a red ribbon, and shipped in a custom protective book-box.

To correspond regarding your book order, please write: sarah@saraphina.com


Robert's worldwide gift that artists love to get.

Absolutely free, no strings. You'll get the valuable twice-weekly letter and be joining the world's most active art community.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE FREE

Last modified: Oct, 23, 2014