Paint Schoodic

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Friday, July 5, 2013

The Winnowing Fork

I threw out 90% of my drawings, keeping only those of sentimental value. This could be nobody but my friend, clothing designer Jane Bartlett, posing for a quick sketch.
I recently bought new pads of newsprint , and they tipped me into chaos. I finally faced the truth that there wasn’t a single corner in which to shove one more thing in my studio. It wasn’t a simple question of emptying one drawer to accommodate the newsprint, either. My whole studio had become a tangled skein of art supplies, finished work, and projects under way.

And this, of course is my long-term plein air pal Marilyn Feinberg, being unusually still.
Twelve man-hours later, the winnowing fork has done its duty, and I can think again.

Of sentimental value for a totally different reason. This is the cartoon for a painting I envisioned of my doctor removing my staples after my first cancer surgery. I probably will never paint it, of course, but it would have been more fun than the surgery. Imagine that green florescent hospital lighting of old...
Artists tend to be pack-rats—after all, one never knows when that beaver skull or fake mustache will come in handy. But at a certain point, the clutter overwhelms. I paint best in a spare, very ordered environment, and much of my working day is spent trying to stop myself from trashing that.

The plein air board stash. Neatly reduced (although I suspect there's another box of them in my frame shop).
Out went the acetate and rubylith left over from the days when designers stripped in pages. Out went stained or marked paper.  Out went damaged prints.

About a decade ago I decided to save all my gesture drawings. I have no idea why; I've never looked at any of them since. Out they went, too, netting me a full flat-file drawer for other purposes. I tossed a large stack of mediocre drawings, keeping only a few of sentimental value and a couple of painting cartoons that still amuse me.

I've finally realized that rubylith and amberlith and hand-stripping tabloid-size pages are never coming back. OK, I realized that a decade ago, but I still thought I could think of something to do with all that stuff. It's on the curb now.
About once a year, I toss out several pounds of paintings I no longer like. I slash these canvases and boards, because I never want them returning, zombie-like, to embarrass me in the future. I reserve the right to edit the story of my life, and that includes my work.

What remains is a mixture of unfinished work that is in some way instructive, finished work that’s just “resting” outside frames for a short while, and a whole range of stuff I’m still not sure about.

Next up, my frame shop. That's a scary thought.

Now that I'm so darn organized, I can start thinking about what's coming up. There is only one slot open for my July workshop at Lakewatch Manor in Rockland, ME, and August and September are sold out.  Join us in July or October, but please hurry! Check here for more information.

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