Archive for April 15th, 2014

GC Myers Failed Painting detailThe image shown here is a tiny part, a background detail,  of a painting that I worked on for several days a month or so back.  I would show you the whole painting as it is at the moment, which is a canvas covered with black paint.  This little detail is the only part of this piece  that I feel comfortable showing and the only bit of it that you will ever see because this painting  just did not work.  At all.  It started wrong and over the days I worked on it continued to get even more wrong.  Even sitting here, looking at this detail, I am tempted to take a brush loaded with black paint to my computer screen to paint away the memory of its wrongness.

Just plain wrong.

It started as a much too concrete idea,  one that was too clever and too thought out.  I have always maintained that I am not smart enough to rely on my conscious brain to create ideas that can come alive and that my work is at its best when it flows from  intuition and reaction and feel.  This painting was surely proof of that.   I tried to force my brain into this painting in every way and it never took on any sort of organic feel, never had a rhythm, never came remotely to life.  I made dozens, maybe hundreds, of conscious decisions in this painting and it seemed as every one was wrong and made the whole thing a greater mess.

I knew within a day or so that it was futile, that this patient was dead on arrival.  But instead of rolling it into the morgue, I decided to try to bring it to life as though I were Dr. Frankenstein working over his poor monster.  This painting certainly resembled the Frankenstein monster– a good part here and there but stitched together crudely and an overall abomination.  It was as abject a failure as I had created in some time.

It was my monster.

I kept the beast around for several weeks and it became too painful to bear, seeing this tortured monster in the corner, more dead than alive.  I could have put it away to remind me of the folly of my own cleverness but I just wanted it gone,  all evidence of it erased.  So I broke out the brush and within moments it was but a memory.  Of course, I took a photo just in case I needed a reminder of  my own fallibility and failings.

I have quite a pile of such reminders, some more monstrous than others.

This monster was gone but it had taught me a lesson which was to keep the mind clear, to try to not force life where it has not taken hold on its own.  Trust the inner parts, my intuition and subconscious.  The life of a painting can’t be forced.   There is a natural rhythm needed that you can’t create.  You must find it and embellish it so that it becomes visible to others.  In this way, painting becomes less like the surgery of Dr. Frankenstein.

We know how that story ends.


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