Thursday, September 22, 2011

See What Happens

Through the Storm
Trust Through the Storm
I just finished this mixed media painting the other day.  I suppose that you could say that this painting took a month to create, as I drew the original sketch on August 22.  But really I drew the girl back in August, then let her languish in my sketchbook until this week, when all of a sudden I was absorbed by a tornado of paint and paper and faith, not emerging until the project was complete.

That description makes the experience of creating this piece sound so romantic, so blissful.  And sometimes the process works like that -- I float on the current of inspiration and simply see what happens.  Those pieces certainly are bliss-inducing. 

But not this piece.  Not at all.  Instead, my floating quickly turned into floundering.

The painting started out all right.  I created what I thought was a pleasant background mishmash of paper and ephemera and pastel paints.  It reminded me of a cake, sweet and elegant and nostalgic. 

And then I thought, Wouldn't some spray ink look nice?

I love my spray inks (this kind, in particular).  In fact, I love anything that drips and anything that provides an interesting and excitingly unpredictable pattern -- and spray inks deliver on both counts.  But inks, unfortunately, tend to be dark and decidedly un-pastel (in my experience, anyway).

But I didn't think the ink would look too dark on the painting in question, and so I started spraying.

Well.  It didn't take too longer before I realized that I had made a terrible mistake, and that my heavy-handed ink application had completely destroyed all of the pastel goodness I had carefully arranged.  In just a few seconds, I had ruined the painting. 

I thought. 

After much grumbling and tooth-gnashing, I began to pull myself together.  I began to un-clutch the pastel vision that had been the piece's reality just minutes before.  I told myself to make the best of it, if for no other reason than to not waste the supplies that had already gone into the piece.  And so, reluctantly, I resumed working the now very transformed painting.

And I finished it.  I didn't just give up.  I stuck it out, and tried to return to the simple "paint and see what happens" philosophy that has served me so well in the past.  After I did that, trying to just let the piece be instead of judging it into submission, things got better.  I liked the piece more.  And, much to my surprise, I received very positive responses when I shared the final version.  Some people even said that this piece is their favorite of all of my creations.

And to think that I'd been so very close to abandoning it.  To refusing to simply try, and to trust (ironic, given the piece's title and theme).

It's easy for me to forget that -- that my sole task as an artist is to simply show up.  To show up, to try, to see what happens, just like Julia Cameron says.  Why do I keep needing to remind myself of that?  After all, the "seeing what happens" is where all the fun happens.

What simple truth do you need to relearn again and again?  How have you made progress?


  1. ArtMuseDog and CarolSeptember 26, 2011 at 5:45 AM

    Love your art style ~ glad you got back to 'your girl' ~ thanks, namaste, Carol (Share the Creative Journey) linked with Creative Everyday ^_^

  2. So glad to have found you thru CPS. I love your mixed media paintings. really cute!


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King