Sunday, December 20, 2015

You Love It. Then You Hate It. Then You Change It. Then You Love It.

Goddesses? What Goddesses?

I painted this painting a couple of years ago, and it was hanging on my studio wall minding it's own business last week, when I suddenly developed a serious grudge against it.  Here is the deal with this particular painting.  A couple of years ago I was so in love with colour and layers upon layers upon layers of marks and texture that it was very hard for me to cull.  "Ooh, that bit is so pretty!" I was like a kid decorating a Christmas tree that had to hang every ornament PLUS tinsel AND multi coloured lights.  (Note: Tree this year is minimalist - white twinkly lights and a dozen old fashioned wooden or knitted ornaments.)  As a result, my paintings were busy - full of action, like a carnival ride.

Midway through painting this one I saw two women, chin to chin, breast to breast, hair streaming back and hips a-sway.  I called the painting Embrace Your Inner Goddess.  The thing is, no one could see those women but me.  In over two years, not a single person saw my goddesses, no matter how many clues I gave.  "See? Both of them have an arm back, like THIS" I would say, demonstrating with my own arm.  Nope.  No one.

Aside from the hidden goddesses, the painting was starting to really bug me.  Too much color.  Too many marks.  It made me feel all jangly when I looked at it.  Get me off this carnival ride, already.

The absolute beauty of painting, the thing that I really want my students to Get with a capital G, is that you can paint, and stop, and start again, and change it, and leave it, and change it, and so on and so forth. Until you like it. (And then, maybe you won't again later.)  But it is signed already!   But I took photos of it and called it finished!

So what?

It is the PROCESS that is so delicious, not the end result. When I took that big bad goddessy girl down and started layering blues and whites over it I was in the zone. What to keep, what to get rid of? This process still thrills the heck out of me, maybe because I am so much better at it than I used to be.

The first thing I did was rotate the canvas, like this for a new view:

Once it was in this orientation, all sorts of new possibilities presented themselves. You can see what I mean more clearly if I show you half the canvas at a time. I saw some bits I wanted to keep... the hanging down pod thingie, the little blue leaves, the tiny etched flower, and one of the blue horizontal slashes. I changed the horizontal lines a bit, and added white and black liberally.

On this half you can see that another pod thingie from the top stayed, as well as some of the blue vertical streaks. I loved the marks in the big circle under the pod, but made it smaller and anchored it to the bottom of the canvas with a stem. The orange area at the lower right had so much pretty colour going on, so I kept a bit of it in the leaves and gave the rest the white treatment. Adding some black areas give a nice contrast.

The painting has been renamed Winter Drift. I like it. For now... ;)