…it’s happened again, another piece that I felt was wrapped up has been up on the painting wall again.
I know how this happens now. Aside from the fact that revision and editing is one of the pleasures of the working process for me.
It seems that I can’t get enough distance on things when working on them- either because I don’t allow myself enough time for simple garden variety rumination, or physical space (until recently, my studio was about 12 feet long on a good day).
But there is also the space and distance of time- being able to look with fresh eyes at something that hasn’t quite revealed itself.
When I used to teach beginning drawing, and wanted people to really see what they had done, while we talked about the work, I would usually take them out into the hallway. We’d lean the thing up against a wall, and then walk back about 20 feet to look at an 18 x 24″ drawing. Now, that is some distance, but it almost takes on another identity. Something glimpsed… all the parts of the whole more visible…. formal qualities and elements standing at attention.
Hard for me to do that now- but, it seems to happen once I photograph a piece and then see it in a much smaller scale on the laptop screen. Then the faults that are working against what I intended are more blatant. This doesn’t happen every time, but it’s my version of looking at the painting backwards in a mirror. Flipping it on it’s side or upside down, whatever you employ to hit the refresh button.
So, now I am happy with the painting, and also with the other two – one finished, one almost revised- that are still living on the painting wall.
Authors often talk about the revision process- how many drafts they need to burn through before the prose is clear and the flow of the narrative works. To me this is the same thing- not being complacently satisfied with what I’ve made, just because it’s a picture. But not letting it be anything less than a successful painting.