Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Silver Lining


An unexpected breakthrough arrived recently after a long frustrating day of painting.  Though I usually paint tractors and landscapes, lately I have been drawn to portraits.  They are both painful and compelling to paint.  Painful because of how exacting the measurements must be to capture a persons likeness and compelling because of the desire to capture their expression and their spirit
on a flat surface. I have found myself working countless hours on the same piece feeling guilty of neglecting the beautiful spring fields now awash in yellow mustard flowers.
     The other week I entered my studio with the conviction I would not touch the portrait but force myself to paint a landscape but upon seeing my recent portrait all my conviction evaporated.  My painting time is precious with the rest of my time divided between teaching and family. So it was on that day, I continued to struggle through the portrait only to find after five hours that I had only made it much worse. I was deflated. It was time to take a rag and wipe it all out.   Soaking a rag full of turp, I prepared my usual attack to remove all traces of my day's failure.   Then it happened.   I did not erase with my usual valor but went slowly as if unpainting my days work and what emerged was an unexpected breakthrough. The hard edges blurred and my strong colors mixed and my days catastrophe turned into a happy accident.

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