This painting is what my dad has affectionately come to call “A Biggie”! And it is a biggie, for me at least It’s 24×36″ and like many paintings, has had several lifetimes before the one you see here. That is the true beauty of painting for me. The do-over ability. The keep going effect. The forgiving nature of acrylics and how one small change or addition will inform the next move even when it feels awkward and sticky and why the hell did you paint that wall over that weird yellow color? Intuition.
The bare bones of this painting was started months ago–the outline of walls, the floor, a big chair, a window but nothing else. Maybe like a daily writing word count, I just got the paint down and worried about editing later. The pros and cons of that is that what I put down, I could barely look at for 2 months and it sat in the corner of my living room. (With the usual creative whining that goes along with it….it’s so ugly, why did you buy such a big canvas, you don’t know how to paint windows, what’s the point, will it fit in the recycle bin, they come tomorrow…you know, the usual.) The pros, is that I did not have a blank canvas. I had some structure to work with. Maybe not something I was digging on entirely but some bread crumbs to follow. That is what painting has taught me. Following the small signs, the next right thing, tuning in to the quiet voice that says I think the Golden Gage Bridge needs to be in here or that chair needs to be big and bold and striped. I’ve come to trust the voice more and more and I find I get stuck, like I did when I started this one, when I have a predetermined idea of the outcome. This piece was meant to be soft and soothing, pastel colors, feminine and sweet. A floral chair maybe? My palette on the first run was a sea of soft dreamy colors and at risk of sounding like the woo-woo Paint Whisperer, this piece did not agree. This is what happens to me when I start from the end. Here’s the truth. I found the perfect perfect perfect frame for a canvas this size. So I bought the canvas with the intent to frame with a very specific end goal. The pressure! No matter what I did to this piece, I got further and further away from my vision until finally it retired to that sad and lonely place Next Week. I knew the second I took the canvas off my big easel, it was going to hibernate. Something didn’t click and that something was my expectations trying to override the natural process and the fun of creating. These are the lessons I need to learn over and over and over again because clearly it doesn’t stick the first 100 times. And that’s ok. I’ve become accustomed to the “oh yeah, I should have had a V-8” moments when I get back in the groove, loosen up and lighten up.
So, appropriately, my calm and soothing vision turned into a circus, an explosion of color and BIG-ness. Do overs are a necessity. Following the creative bread crumbs are key. First drafts are critical. The art knows better than you do. And that lesson, creative muse, via stripes and marquee letters and iconic red bridges, is a biggie. xo
“Love Letter”, 24×36″, acrylic on canvas, framed