Sometimes my own view of a piece will shift over time. Sometimes I might see something in the work that was not the focus of my attention when I was painting, something that gives me deeper appreciation of the piece. Or it might work in the reverse, where I lose sight of that thing in the work that once was my focus in it and the work seems to resonate less with me. I suppose this little painting, only about 5″ by 8″ on paper, shown here falls in that first category.
This piece seemed to be a struggle from the outset. The colors never fully went where I thought they should and the whole thing just never seemed to sing for me throughout the process. The sky took on a murky shade and I worked at scrubbing away as much as I could but it was one of those situation where the atmospheric conditions and the gesso underneath made the paint grip tighter in the creases and folds .
It just seemed blah. I did this piece earlier in the year back in June and set it aside, next to a group of pieces that still need work or are in the same category as this painting. I would look at it every so often and feel dismayed because it should work for me but it just didn’t have that crisp color with the depth that I try to find in most of my work.
But over time, a shift in how I viewed this piece began. Maybe the distance in time from the struggle of creating it had allowed me to just look at it as a piece without the memory of the process affecting my reaction. I began to see the rubbed out sky not as failure of paint but as an interesting texture, kind of like a rough woodcut underneath the paint. Each time I picked it, I did so with more and more affection, seeing it for what it was rather than what I hoped it might have been once in my mind. It was a different version of my normal melody, my normal song. Instead of being tainted by other versions, I now let this piece sing in its own voice.
And I liked it. The shift was complete.
It makes me wonder how many other things we view with a perspective tainted by our expectations and never allow that which we view to show itself for what it really is. I know that I have often failed to go beyond my own biases and expectations and have probably missed the true nature of many things. Therein lies the lesson…