Keep It or Pitch It!

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Every artist has any number of failures along the way in their career. Work that just doesn’t seem to satisfy!  I have three sitting in my studio right now that are waiting for their death or redemption.  I took a look at one I completed a while ago.  I thought it looked pretty good initially, yet it never really moved me.  I have stared at this painting for at least a year or two.  I didn’t want to throw it away, because I thought there were some salvageable parts.

I decided I would give the painting another try.  I examined the painting and made notes of what I wanted to improve and what I would salvage. I would keep it a waterscape, but make improvements.  The photographs in the blog are the Before and the After!  Looking at the before (water scene) you can see that the horizon line is wonky, and the wind is blowing from several directions.  The other thing to notice is the monochromatic color scheme. I used patterns in the water that look vertical.  It is not a good idea to use vertical patterns when trying to emphasize horizontal movement!  I realize that some paintings need to be a limited palette, but there are so few values in this painting, I am surprised I ever thought it was worthy to sell. Side note: When I began painting watercolors, the majority of my work was blue and green, with greys.  Boring! Not until I allowed myself to use colors I was uncomfortable using, did my work get better and new avenues opened!

The only parts left of the original painting are the dark blue of the sky in the upper right section.  The very small threads that could be trees in the distance.  I reworked the sky with the medium patterned blue fabric.  I am very pleased with how it looks.  It adds a different dimension to the sky.  I also used mosquito netting over large sections of the sky, which, again, I think looks much more interesting! As I reworked the sky, I was still going to leave the painting as a waterscape.

I tried not to “think” too much or analyze what was needed.  As I moved below the sky though, something took over, and I quickly decided to do a 180, and create a landscape.  I knew I would be able to use more color, and  I did exactly that!  I dug through my oranges, yellows, and golds and found some amazing patterns!  I laid the new fabric over the old.  I didn’t have to tear or rip, which made it go faster.  I searched through some old containers of trims and bias tape and found some beautifully dyed bias tape.  A student gave this to me a couple of years ago, and this is the first time I used it.  I love it!

As I experimented with the different patterns, things just seemed to fall into place for me.  I concentrated on design and pattern, versus water and waves.

It was a very satisfying day!  Most of the old painting is under the new one, except for the lower part of the painting.  I did pull off the waves and water closest to the bottom. I felt sad because that was one of the parts that I really did like, but I couldn’t make strong waves be a part of a prairie. (I know, I am very rigid!) 😀

I worked from 11 – 6pm. There were only a few final touches needed to the new painting, which I did this afternoon.

Fabric art by artist Pam Collins titled Beautifully Chilly

Beautifully Chilly

Fabric art by artist Pam Collins titled "Fall on the Prairie"

Fall on the Prairie

I am extremely gratified knowing I did a complete re-do in one day.  I proved to myself that anything can be changed and that it doesn’t have to be painful to mix things up.  The whole exercise was a positive experience.

In fact, I took another painting from the chopping block and pulled off several trees, and all of a sudden, the painting has clarity, new interest and is inviting.  I will post that in my next blog.

Until then, if you have an old, unsatisfying piece of work hanging out in a corner, take a moment and look at it some more.  How and what can you do to improve how you feel about it?

Yes, there are definitely times when the best thing to do is pitch it!  But not this time, for me! Thanks for reading!

Go make art!