Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More thoughts on process

Hello, my dear blog readers. Today was not the best of days. I tried to paint all day, but it just wasn't there. I can't explain it, other than to say that I will be happy once tomorrow is here. Do I go to bed early, so that today is over sooner? No, because what if I fall asleep right away, wake up at 3 am, and toss for the rest of the dark hours? Unappealing. Not fun. I have to just hang in there, try not to break anything else, burn anything else, injure anything else, or shed any more tears. It was just one of those days. Let's talk about something else.

The day before yesterday, I finished a larger painting I have been bringing along. I really like how it turned out, especially the colors. What I find interesting, when working on a painting, is how if it is a painting I really like, it is so much harder to complete it. Because I don't want to "mess it up", it is almost as though I become paralyzed to the point where I can barely touch the brush to surface anymore! I remember the words of one of my college professors, who used to say, don't get too attached to any one part of a painting. You will work on that one part of the painting, while the rest of the painting suffers, or (worse, sometimes) you will work on the rest of the painting, not wanting to let go of the one, beloved spot. Then, when you step back and look at it, you will realize all of the cohesiveness is lost. So true!!!

Here is what happened to me with this big painting. I had an idea for how I was going to rework the background, and as I worked on it, it kept coming along better than I thought. The colors seemed to blend together effortlessly! The textures were interesting! I loved this background!!! Look at it! I did. Sitting in a chair, for quite some time. Thinking that maybe I shouldn't do anything else to it. You know, though, it just isn't me. I am a figure painter! Not a landscape artist. There is just no way I can't paint a painting and not put some kind of "figure" in it. So, at long last, with pain, I lightly circled in one, and then two "figures". I know, I know, if you are into realism you aren't going to follow me here. You just have to trust me when I say that these are figures. Okay?

Well, I had a new problem. I loved - LOVED - the way these light strokes of the figures looked. They looked like pastel especially the top one - a light color pastel on top of a dark background. They looked even better close up!! But when I sat back down on my chair, I realized that no matter how much I liked them, the painting wasn't done yet. I sat for a while longer, enjoying my love, which I would ultimately destroy. So I took another breath, took a photo, and finally got up the nerve to jump in again. It was terrifying! I knew, with each brushstroke, that I risked losing everything I had grown so fond of in this painting. If the figures didn't come out of the dark like they needed to, I would probably have to scrape them off, repaint the background, and begin again. (with the possibility of another week's drying time in there somewhere!)

This story does have a happy ending for me. Don't despair! I do think I managed to pull it off. The figures did what they needed to do (stand out) and the beloved background survived.

The moral of the story? Be brave. What is the saying? "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgement that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. For now you are travelling the road between who you think you are, and who you can be." -Meg Cabot


Anke said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Oh I know what you mean with those days.....have one today toooooooo. So let's hope the rest will be better than the start.
Other than that, what a great process your painting went through. That's what fascinates me too, when I did my expressive painting class last year. The change of painting and the end result. Enjoy it, even you struggle sometimes. Smiles, Anke ;)

Melissa & Emmitt said...

Hi Karine!
Your post totally made my day, as I had a day today that sounded similar to yours. and i had to laugh because last night I decided to go to sleep early to kind of end the day like you described. It was not a bad day, I was just ready to start a new one I guess. Well, I woke up this morning at 2:30 am and could not go back to sleep. :) I still got about 6 hours so I am not tired, but today does feel a bit long. :)
Your words about bravery are so true, and I felt that about you yesterday too and to see your painting evolve just made my heart leap! It is so beautiful. Thank you for your post.

kate said...

Hi Karine,

I really love the Meg Cabot quote -how true about the cautious not living at all. It's so much better to be braver. Even if it doesn't work out quite as you want, you have learned something in the process. That's what matters ...

Melissa & Emmitt said...

Hi Karine!
Thank you for the wonderful comment on my blog. Now I feel like I already won. :) You are the best!

nadine said...

There is a painting sitting on my table waiting for me to make a decision. Your post is just the push I needed to take the plunge, ignore the fear about ruining the parts I like, and get on with it!
Your paintings are beautiful and powerful!

lee said...

love the paintings the last one gets me, the colour speak to you. My email is pat54lee@yahoo.ca

coloredsock said...

nice post, Karine. it's good to hear other's process. i had a professor who used to visit the studio late night, said he liked where you were going with it, and say, "just don't screw it up" and smile (he was so charming and funny) and pat you on the back and leave! i used to get really nervous.

i'm glad your piece had a happy ending. if we don't take chances, our paintings will look like we played it safe, so keep on taking those chances!

Nevis said...

You're paintings are so beautiful!