The best paintings appear over failures.

Well, it’s Monday again and I usually post a new work of art early in the week. However, as some of you may know, I am in the process of packing and getting ready for a move in October.  There are boxes everywhere, mounds of packing paper stacked on chairs, and general disorder in my usually tidy home.

In the middle of all the packing, I am finding moments to let art happen…and happen it must even though progress is a bit slower. So for today's post, the art work isn't quite finished. Becoming absorbed in a new project helps ease the stress of moving especially when I can throw caution to the wind. After all, I am painting only for myself this time!

It may be too soon to state this categorically, but I have a feeling my newest project will be another favourite expressive floral work. Given past experience, my best paintings for my own home come from the do overs.

There is something magical and organic about the way texture from previous art remains on canvas, and then suggests a new and (often) improved painting.

Three failures, and three happy do overs.

Dance of the Hummingbirds - going beyond my comfort zone

First, Dance of the Hummingbirds, (November 21, 2017) happened after a failed painting was obliterated with gesso. It started its life as a floral that just didn’t work for me. I used stencils I created to allow the layers of colour and texture underneath to peek through in the final work which is now displayed in my living room.

Neptune’s Playground: a second do over with loads of texture.

Neptune's Playground

Next, in 2018, I painted Neptune’s Playground.

I had already used texture paste in the painting underneath Neptune's Playground. Once that failure was covered with gesso, I played with crackle and modelling paste to suggest seaweed swaying in water.  Then, I added layers of watercolours, acrylic inks, bronze and gold washes until I achieved the bright colours I wanted as you see in the above final work.

At the last minute, I just couldn't resist a little bling...I added tiny Swarovski crystals that look like sparkling droplets of water. Neptune's Playground hangs in the master bathroom.

Finally, Made Out of Thin Air… (August 23, 2019), was a painting that started out looking like spring tulips.  After months of deliberation, I decided that I really didn’t like it that much.

In case you wonder about the title, I explain the Jerry Seinfeld quote in my blog post.

Ode to Summer - finding beauty in failure

And so, as I continue to experiment, a new floral titled for now “Ode to Summer” emerges.

Using three colours, Primary Cyan, Primary Magenta, and Primary Yellow, and white, I am mixing my own colours as I advance through the work. So far, I have not used a brush. The palette knife is a wonderful tool that prevents me from being too detailed. Fingers are also excellent tools!  I really want "suggestions of flowers" in this final outcome. I will keep you posted.

However, when my heart beats a little faster while I am painting, I am sure I am on the right track.  When I wake up at night thinking of the next steps and new methods I want to try, I know that I will love my new painting. And when I can hardly wait to get back to the painting and everything else is secondary to the painting itself, the work has me under its spell.

How about you? How do you know you are onto something wonderful in your own art work?

Pet Portraits and other Commission work.

My commission schedule for 2020 is full at this time.

How about leaving your name for art work in 2021?  I have a growing list of commissions for pet portraits in the new year and would love to paint your fur baby.  Contact me here to leave your name on my list.

6 Responses

  • Unlike you Louise it is not until I have finished the painting that I have some semblance of achieving what I had in mind. As you know, I am always looking at different things to paint, unlike many who paint variations of the same thing. I have a short attention span, so that doesn’t suit me. I have always loved your Hummingbirds, let’s hope you have just the right spot for it in your new home.

    • Sally, I have no idea where all my paintings will go, but I will surely find a spot for each of them in my new home.

      The floral paintings are less predictable and they are much like you describe…I won’t know the final outcome until I get to that point, just the opposite of the pet portraits I usually paint. Cheers!

    • I love that the texture of the underpainting seems to suggest a path, a way to go. The painting just seems to come about so much easier in some ways. Thanks Karren for letting me know I am not the only one!

I’d love to hear what you have to say...