Monday, July 22, 2019

Finding Hidden Treasure

"Hidden Treasure", 30x30" mixed media on canvas. 
I lead a very simple life. I don't need much... something to do that can hold my attention, decent healthy food, enough space that I'm not tripping over other people.

I travel from time to time, but I'm not really one for luxury vacations. I took a cruise once but I was bored. Those days at sea were REALLY long, and the times we stopped, while fun, I was always checking the clock to make sure we got back in time. I did a resort vacation once too, and ditto. My best trips have been the ones where I was with someone whose company I enjoyed and we just did whatever we wanted... be that hiking in a park or traipsing through a new city. Nothing special... no 5 star resort or tour, just getting out a map and getting out there.

My day to day is also pretty simple. I drive an old car... it's paid for and has yet to give me any reason to not feel safe, so why replace it? Our house is small, but its not like we are an enormous family. We don't need more space, so why move? I don't have to dress up for work, so I have only a couple nice outfits, which I wear repeatedly for show openings or family events. If I need something new, my first stop is the thrift store. Most of that stuff has only been worn a handful of times... I'll wash it and give it a new life. Seems so wasteful not to.

Lately I've been looking through my enormous pile of finished paintings, and deciding what stays and what goes. It's tempting to just go buy more canvases and keep everything, but I know in my heart that some of those pieces just aren't good enough to sell, so why keep them? If I don't want to hang them in my house, why would anyone else? If I'm being brutally honest, I was never really satisfied with them anyway. There was that elusive something that I just couldn't achieve... it was what kept me working. When I look at my new abstracts next to some of those older pieces, I can see how much I've improved. It's time to let the old go and move on.

What I'm doing, technically, is "reworking". I'm not getting out the gesso and painting over everything. I'm trying to let some aspects of the old paintings show through and not completely obliterate them. Why? Well... because when I painted those pieces, it reflected who I was at that moment. That person doesn't entirely exist anymore. Parts of me are the same, but things evolve and change over time. If I just obliterate the old piece, it feels like denying it ever existed, but in fact it was a completely necessary stage to go through to get where I am now. I think I need to honour that.

This piece began life in 2015. I know that because of this blog. Here is where the original piece was featured. I've been documenting my work since I decided I really wanted to get serious about this whole painting thing. It's hard to imagine it's taken me 7 years to get this far, but it has. Some artists pick up a brush and instinctively know how to make a good painting that reflects their soul. I am not that artist. It's taken me a long time to be able to honour who I am and not try to paint like someone else. Even now, I need to watch how much time I spend online looking at other people's work. As much as I enjoy it, I don't want it to influence me. And if I'm consuming continually, how can it not?

Anyway, if you take a look at the older piece, you can see that I kept the same basic colour, but lightened it up considerably. The composition has changed, but the old one wasn't that great anyway. I kept all the texture, because that was the part I loved. There are a couple areas where I sanded back the new paint to let the old show through a bit. I guess I will have to change the title, as "Vein of Gold" doesn't really fit any more. I'll keep that in my back pocket and see if I can use it another time.
What do you think? Do you think this piece is better?

For my painter friends... I am going to be teaching a one day workshop on Acrylic Abstracts on August 17th at Kaleidoscope Art Studio in Mississauga. We'll be working on a small piece. In the morning I will show you how I start my paintings intuitively, utilizing a variety of mark-making techniques. After lunch I'll go over what I look for and how I turn that mess of marks into a composition. This is NOT A STEP BY STEP CLASS. Every person will go home with their own unique creation. If you are interested, you can sign up on the Kaleidoscope website.