Monday, February 4, 2013

Nothing is too Precious

Have you ever worked on a painting where there was one section that you totally fall in love with but the rest of the piece just doesn't work? If you are like most people, you spend many hours trying to make the rest of the painting work around your favorite part. If you are lucky, it works and you have a great painting to show for your effort. If your are not so lucky, you waste many hours trying to make it work, but no matter what you do, it just won't and you either leave it as it, an unresolved painting that you try and convince yourself "works", or it sits in your studio with the hopes of coming back to it later. Sound familiar?

One thing we need to realize as artists is that nothing is too precious. In other words, we have to be willing to just "wipe out" an area, no matter how much we like it, if it doesn't work with the rest of the painting. My very first Forgotten Memories painting, before I realized it was the start of a series, was of a little girl in her communion dress. I painted the face so well I was estatic. Painting children, and have them look like actual children, not short adults, is not easy. This was my first attempt and I nailed it. The crowd in my head was cheering! Then I looked at the painting as a whole and wouldn't you know it; the head was too big. CRAP! I was so upset and actually tried to find a way to work the painting around that beautiful head. In the end, it was easier to wipe out the whole head. I hated doing it, but sometimes you have to do the hard thing and get rid of your favorite part for the sake of the whole painting.

Recently I had to do this again. I started a painting and when it was mostly completed, I realized that it didn't really work in the direction of the new series I was starting. There were elements I liked, and some that I REALLY liked, but it didn't feel right. I decided that the whole piece had to go. When I showed it to some fellow artists, they wanted me to try and make it work since there were parts that looked so good. I kept repeating "Nothing is too precious that it can't be erased." After much arguement, I decided to give it one more shot to see if I could make it work. Nope, I still didn't like it. It wasn't going to fit into my series which meant it had to go.

I haven't started on the new painting on this panel yet, but not having to look at the old part and knowing that I have a completely clean board to work with already makes me feel better about the piece. So what's the moral of this story? Nothing is too precious that it can't be erased. Be willing to get rid of your favorite part of a painting for the sake of the whole painting. Make any sense?

This is the offending painting. It's not a bad painting. I like components of this piece but it just didn't seem to fit in with the other pieces I had completed. Part of it was the "bar" with the tree branches. I really liked the branches but the division of space and how it divided the figures below didn't make sense to me anymore. I tried making the top bar white, light blue, and then finally brown but none of these seemed to resolve the piece for me. Now it is a completely blank panel...RIP painting...

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