marie’s fountain – approaching abandon

last evening i stole two hours from my evening and went down to the studio to tackle another hard area; this time the broom in the upper right.

but first i had to fix a few things.  so i turned the painting upside down, quickly saw what had to be done, and in a few quick strokes darkened the boy’s shadow in the water, repainted the darks between the lily pads, and accentuated the edges of those stacked rocks in the middle.

then, the creative flow going, i went after the broom.  first i got rid of the darks i had put in before.  i used a toothbrush to scrub the area, and blotted it up.  it works if you use thick, strong paper, and i use as heavy a paper as i can find (arches in 10-yd rolls).  then i went around and put basically my usual dark (burnt umber and ultramarine blue) and then piled transparent green earth on top of that so that it wouldn’t look blue, or black.

and then i sat back and admired it while the pools dried.  and not pools, either, but tiny little blobs of watery paint sitting there in little bubbles on the paper, defying gravity, resolutely not spreading into the surrounding paper.

while i didn’t do much last night, it was significant work.  and it took two hours, during which i wasn’t worrying about my daughter or other sundry things.

it’s interesting going back and forth between this watercolor and the fabric art piece i’m also working on at the moment.  when the baby is up and active, i’m stuck upstairs with him (he’s learned how to open all the jars in the studio), and so i sew.  when jim comes up for a break, i can sneak downstairs for a few minutes.

the interesting part is because of the vastly different working styles i’m bringing to each piece.  to finish this watercolor, i have to go back to the way i used to paint – meticulous, careful, very slowly.  but in fabric work, i am the opposite.  i’m slapdash, my stitches are anything but even (and we’re talking about machine stitches, so that’s quite an achievement), and i rush the fabric thru the feed dogs often enough to break all the needles.  the way i think artistically now, i don’t care if the stitching is pretty and even, i just want to make sure it can go thru the washer six hundred times and not fall apart.  if you look closely at my fabric work, it looks horrible – if you think slapdash is horrible.  if you look closely at my encaustic work, it looks wonderful – if you think flowing and pooling is wonderful.  i design everything to be seen at a distance of 8-10 feet, but it all rewards (in some fashion) close observation.  and i face the same criticism in each case.  my daughter looks at my paintings and insists they aren’t finished because they’re so slapdash.  my mom looks at my quilts and tells me i should tear the stitching out and start over.  but i look at the scars of my education there on the quilt, and think i’ll keep them in.

it would never be acceptable if it were a commissioned quilt.  i’ve got to admit that.  nobody would buy stitching as naked and telling as what i’m doing.  as a gift, they’re supposed to overlook how badly it was made (if by badly you mean not neatly) and see it all as artistic expression and skill.  i guess you have to take my things as the products of an enthusiastic amateur instead of journeyman or expert.  i don’t have the patience or will to become expert in something.  i’m much more focused on learning new things and experimenting, and i don’t want to get to the point where i have perfected my craft.  others can criticize this all they want, because it just shows that they’re not like me, and i don’t need them to tell me that.

my daughter and my ex husband tell me all day long.


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