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January 2, 2015

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When we're not sure where we're going

December 9, 2014

Creative endeavors are not manuals and they don’t come with maps. The directions come from within and sometimes the path loops back onto itself. Like traffic, there can be many starts and stops. Sometimes the road just dead-ends or the pages get lost.

I’ve been working on this painting for weeks. I’ve adjusted several lines. I’ve fiddled with the color and the values. I’ve reconsidered the foreground and the background. 


The tri-part piece in the middle is too dark and it comes forward instead of receding. The scale is off on the left side. (The colors are particularly atrocious because I took this photo late at night).


The item itself is a large, beautiful piece of 19th century architectural detail. I love the swirling lines and the contrasts of shapes. In actuality, the piece is all greys and is quite cold looking. I wanted to warm it up and make it lively. I wanted to pay homage to Wayne Thiebaud. 


Now, I just want to quit. And that’s where this piece has stood for days.


I asked myself many times, “Self, what is this supposed to be? What are you trying to say? Have you learned anything from this process?” Self:  “Not yet.”


I get a little more confrontive with Self: “Do I push on through or let it rest? Do I turn it upside down or do I stand on my head and look at it from a new perspective? Do I change the background because the blue building in the background doesn’t mean anything? Do I paint it over all together?”


So I’ve taken a tried and true approach….I’ve let it rest for about a week. I think about it a lot.  Sometimes I just go into my studio and look at it and don’t even pick up a brush.


The other day, in the shower (where all my good ideas come), I had a new idea about approaching the same subject matter, but in a different way. It involves painting over the entire canvas and re-drawing it and pushing some boundaries, but I’m kinda, sorta, maybe excited about it.


I’ll give it another go. It may work. Or it may end up in the maybe-someday pile. 


And maybe I will have learned something from it after all.

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