A year or two ago I heard from someone who had bought the painting you see above about 30 years ago.  She said the red of the roof had faded and she wondered if it could be restored.  I asked her to look on the back and tell me the code.  I then looked it up and located a slide of it to see how red it had been. ( BTW the red was Alizeran Crimson which is not light fast as the quinacridones.) I restored it for her.  And she bought a current painting too!

So my question to you is: do you have proper identification on the paintings you give as gifts or sell? Will someone be able to locate you ten, twenty years from now?

How do I identify my paintings?

I sign my name in the lower left corner with a small brush and under it I write ©2018 or whatever the date is when I presented it to the public.

In addition I give it a number which is on the back of the framed painting. 9016 means it was the 16th painting I framed and made public in 1990. This one is the 12th painting to be framed in 2013.

I include a sheet with background to the painting and a blurb about the artist.

The format has changed over the years, but that is history in itself.

Sometimes I hear people objecting to dating the painting on the painting. They believe that if takes several years to find a buyer the painting won’t appear au courant. And that is what prompted me to write this entry.

The Home Stretch

Over the last year or two I have had a number of people who have written to me about their paintings.  One had purchased 6 over time from a gallery (no longer there) in Bellingham.  He  was interested in knowing more about them.  He sent me one photo each week for 6 weeks and I told him a bit more about each painting. My responses were greatly appreciated. He said it helped him to see more in the paintings and appreciate them even more. I enjoyed seeing the scope of his collection.

Coastal Decent

Recently I received this photo of a painting done on the Oregon Coast (Yaquina light house, scenery south of Yachats). Someone had found it in a thrift shop and wanted to authenticate it. Yup, an original; yup, mine.  It had sold out of Lawrence Gallery in Oregon and was found in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Winter Alders

Just a week ago I heard from a woman whose parents had purchased this painting from a show in Corvallis in about 1990. She wants to keep it but had to assign a value to it because of the way she and her sister were dividing their parents assets. I was able to help her. And learn that the painting is now in Austin, TX.

Beechwood Park, Hillsdale, NJ

Last spring I heard from someone who has two of the earliest paintings that can be out there… He sent me these two photos and we were able to date them to 1971.  His father, no longer living, had them hanging in his office for years. His father and I had served on the first Conservation Commission in northern New Jersey. We became friends while working on saving a 10 acre section of woods as a nature preserve* The son said that the trees had an accompanying paper identifying which species each was. At that time I had three very young children and had just started studying watercolor again (after an introduction to the medium when I was a teenager).  Although they are awkward, I find they show recurring themes: forests and soft/hard edges of atmosphere.

Another old friend which has moved and found a new home.

When I had breast cancer in 1988 and suddenly found myself facing my mortality, different people told me how much they enjoyed the paintings of mine they had in their homes.  I realized that there was a part of me that would live on beyond me.

another early one

In the last few years, as the sales of the 80’s and 90’s have turned into estate sales, in some instances I have found that my paintings are continuing to give pleasure with new owners. And I have been delighted to learn that sometimes they have traveled far from where they started.

Your paintings have a future. Treat that future with respect and document them well.

Happy holidays!

Happy painting.


©2018, Caroline Buchanan