Saturday, February 4, 2012

Art Prompt 5: Just One More Thing. A Lesson in Knowing When To Quit.

Today's art prompt: take a piece of artwork off your wall and do just one more thing to it. This was a relatively easy one for me this week because I had just the painting in mind. It's a painting I have never been happy with and had put aside some time ago. Sadly, I had given up and quit.

 I did one new thing to the painting, and then another, and then another.  Hours ticked by in the studio and still, I couldn't resolve this painting. It was now 4am. and I was out of chocolate almonds!Perhaps it was time to quit trying.  But before I did that, I tried one more desperate thing: cropping.  I grabbed my Xacto knife and starting slicing the canvas off it's stretcher.  No guts, no glory. It was either going to be genius or garbage (or more realistically, something in between).

I was finally happy. This painting has been a long time in the making.  The final key for me was knowing when to quit. Quitting on an "unfinished" piece can be liberating.  You don't have to treat the work like it's a masterpiece. You can be free to vandalize your own process; to take it in another direction entirely.

Here's what I started with:

The composition here is too tight. The colors are too bright. And I've told too much of the story for you.  The first thing I did after reading my daily prompt was to slash paint across the mask.  Unsatisfied, I began to wash browns and grays over the entire piece, I sanded back areas, splattered red paint, dripped black paint and colored with oil pastels.  Lastly, I lined the piece with pen and ink to get this:

But alas, bad composition is just bad composition. So I re-composed this piece with some extreme cropping.  I love the intimacy of this new peice.  There is room for you, the viewer, to tell your own story.

Today's art prompt of doing just one more thing to a piece led to a bigger lesson for me.  Know when to quite! Artists often talk about going to far with a piece until it is overworked and ruined. But don't quite too soon either.  Try doing just one more thing to it.

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