Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sometimes You Gotta Paint Right Over It

I experienced something profound recently--at least profound in my own life as a writer and artist. I have to confess, I'm a bit of a packrat. I prefer not to throw things away. I like to pile things up knowing if I ever need something, I can find it--somewhere. Like my books. I save a different Word document for each day of writing. Is that neurotic? I know it may seem strange. But I have, on occasion, realized that something I wrote a while ago and disposed of, was good. I just search through my files until I find it, and voila, it's back into place.

Well, my artwork has always been a little different. I'm one of those folks who feel that whatever comes out on the canvas is what should be there. My best work is instinctive, not over-fudging. Last week I painted a piece and worked on it every night for days. This is not how I like to work, but it just wasn't doing it for me. So I added this and added that over and over until my three-year-old daughter came in on the last day--when it was done, mind you--and said, "I don't like that!" Normally, she loves my work. So I said, "You know, honey? You're absolutely right. I don't like it either."

What happened next was liberating. I did something I've never done--I found the only thing that was working on the canvas, a woman, and kept her. Then I completely painted over everything else. Every decision I made about color or stroke was straight from the gut with no overthinking. And do you know what? I dropped it off at the gallery on Saturday and with it still propped up against the wall and not even hung up yet, "Peace" sold within three days. That validation--that I should listen to my gut and not let my mind over-edit--is a valuable lesson for me and something I intend to take with me into my writing life. Sometimes, if you're inner-child is screaming, "Yuk!" it's best to just paint over that over-worked canvas and create something totally fresh.


Rachelle said...

Oh! That is just beautiful! What a wonderful lesson God brought you. And for what it's worth... it holds true with your writing, too.

Ronald E. Gollner said...

New to your blog, but I'll be back.

In writing the equivalent of what you described is, as you most likely already know, "killing your darlings." And it's always painful, but as you discovered with this experience it can be so bountifully liberating and ultimately rewarding.

Be blessed, my friend, as you labor faithfully at that to which God has called you.