Paint Schoodic

Join Carol L. Douglas at beautiful Acadia National Park, August 6-11, 2017. More details here!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reappraisal

Reed beds at the Irondequoit Inn didn't thrill me that much when I painted it, but it turns out to have been predictive of where I'm going as a painter.
Recently, I was listening to some fellow painters talking about how to reuse canvas-boards on which they'd done unsuccessful paintings. I remarked that I almost never reuse boards, because I almost never throw things away. My studio and workshop are full of field sketches and paintings that aren’t going to be shown but aren’t going to be painted over, either. As long as I have the luxury of space, I’m going to continue this practice.

Hayfield in Paradise (private collection) was painted about a decade ago. Yes, it's obviously by me, but my color sense, my brushwork, and my composition are all much different today.
I think most artists are poor judges of whether something they’re working on is a success. We usually think it works when it flows off the brush without too much pain. However, often the most important work we’re doing isn’t easy. Trailblazing involves hacking out a path with an ax, after all.

I had most of my inventory off my own walls this summer because it was in galleries. To fill the nailholes, I put up some small works from my slush pile. One of these pieces is hanging on the wall opposite my bed, where I see it when I wake up. I didn’t like it that much when I painted it, but after a week back home, I realize that it’s actually very good. It was jarring several years ago; it seems a lot more like me today.

I loathed this painting of the mouth of the Genesee River when I did it, and almost wiped it out. It has really grown on me over the years, and now I think it's a really cool painting.
Another small painting—a sketch for a larger work—accidentally traveled with me to Maine this summer. Since it had nothing to do with the Maine works I was delivering, I used it to decorate my cabin. When I painted it, I thought it was both elegant and loose. However, the subdued palette has little in common with my work today.
Keuka Vineyard accidentally traveled to Maine with me. I realized after looking at it for several weeks that it's not that connected with my work today. Nevertheless, I still like it.
You can’t really make these judgments if you obliterate everything you paint that makes you uncomfortable. That's analogous to ruthlessly weeding out all new seedlings under the mistaken notion that they are weeds. You really can't tell what's in your garden until it has a chance to grow.

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