Friday, May 4, 2007

Trash or Treasure?

I was going to throw this stuff out -- paper scraps from a template I was cutting out to use in a new painting. My resourceful husband, with his unique artistic eye, thought my discards were interesting enough to include in a (this) photo.

My experience in the studio today with these templates makes me think of a subject that artists fear to mention, or even think about: those days in the studio when everything we touch turns to ... trash. Sometimes we walk through the studio door with a plan in mind, ready and eager to turn our vision into reality. Other times we just go with the flow, trying whatever the painting seems to say it needs. Regardless of the process, there are those days when our best-laid plans or most promising ideas just fall flat.

The painting WON'T come to life, no matter what we try -- adding more, scraping off, murmuring words of encouragement, praying, cursing, or throwing up our hands and leaving the room for a cup of tea or a long walk.

Maybe we react philosophically to these experiences, and tell ourselves it wasn't meant to be -- the idea, the direction, that particular combination of materials or colors. Or maybe we get frustrated and feel like hanging up our palettes and turning to something more rewarding like gardening, or more lucrative like plumbing.

But we have to admit, to paraphrase the old bumpersticker slogan, that a bad day in the studio is better than a good day anywhere else. In the studio, it's your own little world. Yes, you mess up sometimes, but it's YOUR mess. No one else told you to combine those brushstrokes or those colors or those layers.

And let's not forget those heavenly days in the studio, when everything you touch seems to turn to gold. Every new idea leads somewhere. Every stroke is what you meant to say. Every application is a culmination of what you've been trying to accomplish for months.

So for all those days of thinking, "Forget this! I'm going to put a ping-pong table in the middle of this studio and sell all these paint supplies at a yard sale," there are those times when it all just falls into place.

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