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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

One Thing I Never Do

'Dance With Me'              8x10            pastel            ©Karen Margulis
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It happens more often than I'd like. A painting that just isn't working. It may be the drawing or the colors or the composition. It may be that I just don't feel it.  It is easy to throw in the towel and throw the painting in the trash. It might make me feel better for a moment.....but then I realize that I just wasted a perfectly good piece of paper.No matter how frustrated I am with a painting there is one thing I never do.

I never throw away a perfectly good piece of paper. 

Every failed painting has hidden possibilities. Every failed painting presents us with lessons. We just need to put our emotions aside and move past these 'duds'.  Often I will take my duds and brush them out completely. Depending on the surface I may wash off the painting or do an alcohol wash. This gives me a brand new toned surface to work with.

Sometimes the old painting suggests a new one. It happened today. Follow along and see the transformation.

first brush out of the original painting

The old painting: The original painting was a siamese cat on an 8x10 piece of brown LaCarte paper. I painted the cat for a class demo. Often demos aren't meant to be completed....they demonstrate a point. Today's demo was unfinished. I tried to work on it after class but I just wasn't feeling it. So I brushed it out with a stiff brush.

the second brush out
I reworked the cat. I refined the drawing and started to rework the values. I still wasn't happy. I was approaching that moment of frustration....that moment when the trash can is looking good.  That moment usually passes and my stubbornness kicks in. I never throw away a good piece of paper! So I brushed it out again and sprayed it with some workable fixative. I was going to paint over the cat.

starting a new subject on top of the cat

This was the fun part. Now I was free from the cat. I could paint whatever I wanted. I pulled out a photo of some trees in November. The trees had color but the ground was white with early snowfall. I draw a few trunks and start to put down some foliage color.
Can you see the hidden cat?

I went with this idea for a bit longer. It wasn't working. It looked odd. The brilliant fall color and the snow just didn't make sense. Should I give up now? NO!  I decided that I wanted to keep the snow but I wanted to make the trees into birch or aspen trees. I start adding colors to the tree trunks. I block in the snow and the sky. I continue to add color and detail with wild abandon. Now I was having fun!

I'm glad I didn't keep working and overworking the cat. I'm also glad the I persevered and started painting with my heart!


Sandy Mac said...

Fantastic, Karen! Isn't it amazing how your creativity was set free once you abandoned the idea of what "you were supposed to do"? The result - FUN! - freedom - and a gorgeous final painting!!!

Sue Marrazzo said...

NICE, Honest and LOVELY!

bighillpottery said...

I am totally with you on this one! i cleaned off old paintings and reused them...it's fun to see the ghost of the previous image and let it suggest something new.

i was wondering if you have ever tried vacuuming off the pastels? i tried it the other day, the lower part of the painting wasn't working well...so i attached the small brush head (the one you use for sofas etc) and just vacuumed off the pastels! it worked like a charm and i didn't have to deal with the dust in the air!
cheers, Linda

robertsloan2art said...

I tend not to do this, just store them and make sure there's a date on them because I've always really stocked up on surfaces. But I agree with you about not throwing out good paper!

The thing I'll do sometimes is look back a year or two later at something that didn't work and suddenly get what it needed in the first place. I sometimes choke at "The ugly stage" that comes right before the finish. Then much later on see the final detail or change that snaps it to looking good.

I remember one autumn landscape I stuck on my sketch wall for over a year before I realized it needed violet accents in the foliage and around the trunks. Zing! It went from "meh" to wow.

So there's different approaches. I'm impressed with what you did changing the subject though, that was very powerful! Though I do hope you'll have a day you feel like doing a Siamese again!

Mary Pyche said...

I'm with you, don't throw anything away if there is another way you can use it. And those days when dogged determination is the name of the game-- in the end you feel good just because you didn't give up. It's always good when the situation is behind you (over with). I think we know when it's time to give up but that decision comes from a smart place, not a quitter place. I love stories you are telling.

Laura Kirste Campbell said...

What a lovely story and resulting painting! Thank you for the encouragement!