AEDM (12 and 13): How to ruin a painting

This weekend I’ve learned how to ruin a painting:

1. Start with a simple drawing on canvas that you like.

2. Add color and love it even more.

3. Add black outlines, have the paint spit black paint out of the lines.

4. Try to clean up some of the black.

5. Decide that the black lines were a complete mistake and try to paint over them, but not completely get rid of them.

6. Keep working paint over the vibrant colors originally laid down until yo suck the life out of it.

7. Start to panic and collage over the paint.

8. Keep working in horror as you dig your self deeper and deeper into a painting you now hate.

9. Complain to your husband that you have ruined your painting, hear him say, “no, it’s not ruin, it’s just part of the process,” nod, know that he is right, but still feel crappy.

10. Go to bed thinking about how you will fix the monstrosity, awake convinced you know what to do, do it and make it worse. Give up for the day with what you see here for Art Every Day Month.

New work

For years, I’ve enjoyed creating works that are based on fractured space. I think that stems from my love of working with torn paper in the collage works I create. Taking things apart and reconstructing them in a way that makes the eye move around the piece is so much fun. I get totally lost in the process as I calculate which color, which piece will go where, as if I’m putting together a puzzle.

This new 9 x 12 work, “Silver Star,” was created using mixed media — pencil, watercolor and acrylic paint. I came up with the image working with the theme of “air” for December’s Creative Every Day Month. Can’t you feel the air moving around her?

Prints and greeting cards featuring the work are available  here.

Painting joy

Joy All AroundTwo days ago I sat in my studio intending to paint a piece featuring a woman reclining on a sofa. I began with one of my favorite colors—orange—as a background, then had the idea to add circles. After adding layers and layers of circles in various sizes, I sat looking at the piece as I listened to music, trying to decide the next step.

This was the point in the painting where I should have added the figure. But I waited, watched the canvas, soaked up the music and let myself float into the painting. No rushing. Just waiting. Listening to myself and debating: Was I not adding the figure because I was afraid I might get it wrong and  “mess up” the painting, or was I  not adding her because I was loving the painting as it was in its current state?

I think every work of art reaches this point. That place where I need to say “done” or move forward to take it to another level. It is sometimes hard to figure out which way to go. Often I think I can go too fast and get too far away from when I should have stopped. But I can also stop too soon because of that fear of losing what I currently love about the piece. I guess that is what is exciting about this whole process. Oh, the danger. Will I ruin it, or won’t I? 🙂

In this case, staying still and getting lost in the music  so that I could hear myself think (and the Muse whispering) were definitely key to making what I think was the right decision. I decided to stop. I love this mixed media painting. It makes me feel so happy and joyful as I look at each circle floating up and out to who knows where. I call it “Joy All Around.” Get it? Circles. Around?

The best thing about this piece is that it was created on a large wood panel that my talented friend Susan made for me. So each time I look at it I will think of her.

What do you think? How do you make that decision about when to stop when you are working on a piece? What questions do you ask yourself? I would love to know.

Leaping, waiting, thinking

Angel card
Handmade greeting card

I took a leap tonight as I continued to work on greeting cards for the Saturday holiday far, as part of my Art Every Day Month/Creative Every Day Challenge. A month ago I painted on paper and made this really beautiful sheet. It was so beautiful that my husband advised me not to cut it up. He loved it. I loved it. But tonight I cut it up to make handmade cards–partly because I think the rich textures and colors are perfect for my cards and partly because I was afraid to cut it up. I dared myself to believe that I can make something this lovely again. I will. I cut it up and used it just to prove that to myself. The card is above. So that is the leap of faith.

Lady in progress
Work in progress

The waiting and thinking involves my painting-in-progress lady. I keep looking at the painting each morning before work, thinking about about it, looking, wondering what I should do next. Waiting for the Muse to give me direction. Tonight I’m thinking that the colors I put on this weekend remind me of stained glass, which elevates all subject matter to a place of honor. This woman who loves her body should have that place of honor. So perhaps I will approach the pieces of color that way, as if they are glass in a stained glass window. Just thinking….


Lady in waiting2OK. I’m in a love/hate relationship with my painting-in-progress. I’m not liking it right now after I added darker levels of color. It’s all so random. What am I doing? I think my Muse is on vacation. I basically found colors that I like—purples, greens, oranges and layered them on. Boy, do I hate this now. I have no idea how this will turn into a painting that I like. When I look at the image of it just one post down I love it. Why didn’t I just stop there? WAAHHH! Tell me that things will work out. Tell me that you thought that you have “ruined” a painting, kept working it and came out on the other side with something marvelous. Tell me!

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