Several articles at this website encourage artists to get out there and actively promote their work. While I think this is an essential part of achieving notoriety as an artist, I realize that not artists want fame. There is the rare case of the reclusive artist who quietly paints for years, not revealing any of his/her artwork to the public.

Why would an artist not want to show their work publically? Maybe they have suffered rejection one too many times. Maybe their art don’t fit in with the fads of the time. Maybe it just takes too much time and money. Whatever the reason, these artists decide to devote all their time and energies to creating piece after piece.


Vincent Van Gogh – Sickness and Rejection

Starry Night Van GoghWhen most think of the struggling, unaccepted artist, they think of Vincent Van Gogh.

Through toils, poverty, hardships and sickness he laboured continuously on his art. Only selling 1-2 paintings and rejection by the art community did not stop him from creating.

His paintings are now worth millions, and he is one of the most influencial and revered artists in history.



Claude Monet – Lived Most of his Life in Poverty

Impression Sunrise MonetVan Gogh is not the only now famous artist who experienced rejection in their lifetimes.

 Claude Monet suffered through poverty, and only began selling near the end of his life.

His painting “Impressionism – Sunrise”, known for for coining the art movement Impressionism, was initially spurned by critics.




El Greco – Rejected in Life

El Greco View of ToledoEl Greco was an artist way before his time, and even was an influence for the Cubist movement.

But because of his rejection of painting conventions, mainly those of Michelangelo, he was laughed at and spurned during his day.






Paul Gauguin – Left a Good Job to Paint

Paul Gauguin Midday NapPaul Gauguin was a friend of Van Gogh.

During his life, he gave up his high paying stockbroker job to create art.

But, he did not find the success he sought after – at least not in life.

His paintings were unappreciated by many, and even ridiculed – but they are now worth millions.


Arthur Pinajian – Art Find – Thousands of Paintings

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Recently, I read the story of Arthur Pinajian, an unknown Armenian American artist. Arthur Pinajian was an abstract expressionist painter who created thousands of paintings in his small home in Bellport, N.Y. Arthur Pinajian struggled for years to be accepted as a serious artist. But, because of rejection decided to isolate himself from the art world, and just paint. The artist passed away in 1999 at the age of 85, leaving behind a collection of thousands of paintings, drawings and illustrations.

Following his departure, Pinajian’s family sold his house to a pair of investors for $300,000. After discovering the huge stash of artworks in the garage and attic, they decided to purchase these along with the house. Arthur Pinajian actually instructed his family to dispose of all of his paintings after his death, but they now sold them for a measly $2500!

The new owners contacted the well known appraiser Peter Hastings Falk, who valued the huge art find at $30 million! This is what Falk had to say about Arthur Pinajian: "He painted every day but no one saw his art. He received no reviews and not one of his paintings or works on paper ever was shown in a New York gallery or museum."

Some of Arthur Pinajian’s paintings now hang in New York galleries - some of them priced at $87.000! A website devoted entirely to the late artist can be found here: Pinajian Art

When I read about Arthur Pinajian, I thought about all the art that must end up in the garbage or withering away in an attic following the death of some artists. If only the family realized the value of his art and hiring an appraiser - they would be $30 million richer!


Dave Pearson – Devoted to his Art

A story which is quite similar is the British artist Dave Pearson (1937-2008). Pearson was relatively unknown during his life. Painting was his life, and he used every opportunity to express himself through art. He had a few art shows, sold some pieces during his life and taught art at Manchester Metropolitan University. But, until his death, most of his artwork had not been seen. He amassed a collection of over 15000 artworks in his home! There is no set value as yet for Dave Pearson’s estate, though undoubtedly it will be in the millions. This blog follows the enormous undertaking of cataloguing Dave Pearson’s estate: An Artist’s Estate


These artists created art not for the money or fame – but because they had to. It was a part of their existence on this earth, and their means of expression.

It should be mentioned that occurences of large art finds such as these are rare. The majority of artists do not work in seclusion, and there are many who may not even receive recognition after death. 

I would like to leave you with some questions to ponder. Feel free to answer these by leaving a comment if you like.

Why does it sometimes take death for the art world to realize the talent of some artists?

Would you create art even if you weren’t making money? Why?

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  1. Hi, cannot even imagine how timely this article is for me. This exact question ran through my mind because literally, just yesterday I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I actually said to my husband, "Wow, just in case this goes in a way I don't want it to...I need to really get everything I have in my head onto a canvas and fast. You know that most artists don't get famous after they are gone!" me...I am keeping a most positive focus, but that did really enter my mind. It is sad that the art world doesn't notice until it is too late. Well, as long as I am around, I plan to still keep at it. When you are an artist...creating is the equivalent of breathing. You just must. I have so many paintings left in me so there is no way I think of anything else but looking forward and fighting for it! I love your website and promote it on mine. You provide such great information, and it truly helps artists like myself. Thanks, Graham!

  2. I too create in obscurity, and most contentedly so. I find the current "requirements" demanded of artists at this time, well, tiresome and time consuming as I would rather be painting or traveling to paint. Blogs are nice, websites are nice, (I have both, but no sales and not a lot of responses during this economic crisis has discouraged me from devoting more of my time to them) but I simply do not have time to sit on my butt in front of the computer as much as is required to be "successful" in today's terms. So I paint for MY pleasure and thank god I still can.

  3. Van Gogh , though he had only been painting 10 years, was on the verge of recognition. He was invited to exhibit with an important avant garde artist group Les XX in Brussels. He had long exchanged work with fellow artists and with people he taught. People were starting to write about him. Pretty impressive for someone who picked up a brush only 10 years earlier. Van Gogh was his own worst enemy however, and utterly destroyed relationships and opportunities other artists would have killed for.The book about him that came out last year is a real eye opener. Monet only suffered poverty in the early years of his career and a good part of that had to do with a world wide depression that destroyed many fortunes - his friend Sisley's included. By the time Monet was nearing 50, his paintings were fetching good prices. Considering that he lived and painted well into his 80's, I wouldn't say helived a life of poverty. Siseley never recovered.

  4. I believe that some artists become famous after death because their art doesn't fit neatly into an acceptable established category. When I read about Arthur Pinajian, I thought, "Gee, is that what is going to happen with my art..." Commercial galleries seem to be afraid to show work that is "different" for fear that their clients will not buy it. Since I create art that doesn't fit neatly into any category, my success rate with commercial galleries is very low. I have gone through this for 40 years. Thank goodness, I've sold more than Van Gogh! And, thank goodness I do not paint to sell. I paint my personal art because I am driven to paint. My personal paintings with their poems are at . I paint animal paintings on a commissioned basis because I love animals. They are traditional and can be see at

  5. I identify to a large extent with "adventure artist". I found it hard to cope with rudeness, the lack of acknowledgment, and rejection of gallery people. I persevered to some extent, sometimes, and did exhibit, sell, and do commissions too. For the last seven years, I've exhibited exclusively in a community setting where they seem to appreciate my work. (I've got a solo exhibit coming up in Sept.) I struggle over "cheating myself" by not contacting city galleries. I won't. I don't want to spend the time and if I did, it would depress me.(I've been on the scene for about 35 years and my work has changed a lot.)

  6. If you want to sell art you'll have to deal with rude city folks, which should not scare you at all. Why would you fear rude people? Rejection is just part of the promotional track. Being a sensitive person should only be reserved for special people in your inner circle and not for the rif raf. Because then the rude people win and they don't deserve that victory. That's how painters like Matisse looked at the world, and that attitude even kept him happily painting during the nazi occupation. It was his way to show that he didn't give a toss about nazi's. Very strong guy!

    Well about Van Gogh and Gauguin, what did they exactly expect from country folks who were more interested in agriculture than in culture? Those were hard times in France and Tahiti, and people almost starved to death from hunger!


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