Good Bones

I have to laugh as I write this blog. I skipped last Sunday's check in because of a technical glitch. Today, this is my second version of this blog because my computer ate my first draft... and ooo I thought I had a good one too! The universe is clearly trying to tell me something... bringing me to this question posed by a follower.

Q: What do you do with older/failed paintings? Do you throw them out ?

A: When a painting has stayed in my hands too long, I know it is only a matter of time before it will be returned to my easel. I never think of a painting as a failure, only as a  work that needs time and more skill to resolve. I am not opposed to reworking a painting. As my skills have grown, my vision for my work has changed. Influenced by other artists that  I study and simply by showing up each day in my studio to paint.
That being said, it is not easy for an artist to rework a finished painting. There is a period of denial, of angst, frustration of time invested and a disappointment of a creative effort not fully realized. I usually need a time of self talk. Now understand that self talk is quite different from talking to oneself. Self talk is a teaching moment while talking to oneself  is often negative muttering  and will lead you down an unproductive crazy path. Both have their place...but this is my next step.
I hang my work throughout my home,walking past it everyday has been a far more productive way of "seeing" it than having it leaning against the wall in my studio. I live with it, just as you would in your own home. My critical eye will rest on a color that works or not, composition that falls apart or is pleasing. Reflected in a window or mirror something may seem off, or suddenly an unintended shape becomes a focal point. Family members may comment (my children never held back!) at their own peril but should be given a nod. Then what? 
  As a watercolorist, I tore up my "not up to snuff" work and all the little pieces lived on in a glorious treasure box of colors and shapes that puzzled together successfully in  later paintings. As an acrylic oil painter a knife ripping into a painted canvas or sawing finished panels can raise some crazy eyebrows but still may be necessary to move on because you find the piece unacceptable. 
Timidity is the bane of correction in my experience. A good, loud warrior cry followed by a well considered palette knife thick with color often does the trick... my studio is not for the faint hearted!
Then comes the time spent working on rebuilding . If it had "good bones" the adjustments will strengthen it. Just like buying that ugly, foreclosed home, you need to have a vision of the potential beauty that lies beneath all the wrongness and understanding that some TLC coupled with your growing skills can rehabilitate rather than destroy a painting.
I'll let you think about eye just caught sight of a spot that needs...RED!


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