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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Knowing When a Painting is Good or Bad

'Summer Magic'         11x14          pastel         ©Karen Margulis
 The Purging continues. Well at least I am going through my piles of older paintings. I can't seem to throw them away although it isn't because they are too good for the trash!  On the contrary they need to be trashed but I am too thrifty to waste the paper. So I am recycling them. (You can see my first recycle effort here)

What does make a painting good or bad?  It is one of the things we need to learn how to evaluate. On my blog I share all of my daily paintings but they aren't all good. I share them because they are part of my routine and my blog is about sharing my journey.

But I often wonder how to really evaluate a painting and determine it's worthiness. Yesterday I came across a great post on facebook by artist Michael Mentler. I love the part about knowing a work is good when you can't remember doing it or how you did it.  Those paintings don't happen all of the time but when they do it is a great feeling. It is a special time when all that you know connects with all that you feel to allow you to paint intuitively. Read what Michael Mentler said:

"I have been going through dozens of flat files and refiling a lot of things in the big round file. When you have works that don't deserve to see the light of day you need to make sure they go the other way. As Werner Drewes (in a German accent) once said to me " They are either good or they are bad, and if they are bad they must be destroyed." You know when a work is good when you can't really remember doing it or how you did it. When you get into that strange place where the process and the product become one good things happen"  Michael Mentler

The 'old' painting complete with a water stain
Today's painting is my second recycled work. The old painting was dark and dull. The foreground was overworked with too many nitpicky flowers. On top of that there was a water mark on the mountains that had dripped down the painting.

I sprayed the painting with workable fixative and began reworking the mountains. My goal was to simplify the foreground and brighten up the whole painting.


Colette Savage said...

When I have produce a dud, I like to recycle the paper because Wallis and Uart papers are too expensive to just toss out. I tape the bad painting to a masonite board, take a cheap house painting brush, go outside and scrub off most of the old pastel dust. The tooth of the paper is still there and the old image makes for an interesting underpainting. I love your blog Karen!

Sandra Kavanaugh said...

Thanks Karen, this came on the day I had decided to fix or ditch a few of my pastels! Now I look forward to re-working them.