Thursday, October 7, 2010
When to stop?
Original oil Painting
by Susan Roux
When do you stop painting?
I'm certain I'm not alone on this subject. How many times have you brought a painting to completion only to feel it was better awhile ago. I'm guilty of it in the studio and notorious for it on location.
Have you ever stopped because someone told you to stop? At that point when you still had a vision to continue, it can be very difficult to put your brush down. What do you do to all those spots you planned on developing further?
I'm here today. Stopping and pondering.
This is the painting I worked on in the Chicken Coop. I took a different approach from the start. Paint the poetry! That's what was in my head (and on the little Monet post-it note in my studio) The scene is from my photo shoot following Stapleton Kearns workshop. That glorious morning when I saw the sun dancing in and out. Armed with my camera, I parked and walked many times while leaving the island.
I'm not always a fan of photos. (sorry my dear husband...) I couldn't wait to paint this lovely scene, but once I looked at my pictures, they hadn't captured anything I remembered. I didn't care. I set out to paint the feeling I had when admiring this waterfront property. How dreamy this floral place was! I could just sit there for hours breathing in the wonderful scents. The various flowers, the salty air...
This precious place slipped my soul away into a relaxing dream.
It was all about the feeling. I used the photo as a reference to put down a basic layout of my composition. Move things, change things. Nothing mattered. I wasn't trying to duplicate the image before me. I have to tell you I had more fun painting this than I have in a long time. It was pure emotion. I thought of my friend Jennifer Wadsworth who always lets the canvas speak to her and direct her. Is this what she's been talking about all this time? I was manipulating the paint to whatever felt right. Choosing colors that projected the feeling I desired. I found myself holding brushes in ways I never have before. It became a tactile experience. I was romancing the canvas.
I think Nora enjoyed watching me as pure emotion led me in its development. By day's end, she told me I was near done. She warmed me about overworking it. That evening, artist friend, Svetlana Beattie visited. She loved the painting. Sign it, she said. Her description of it was moving. With her whole body and up on tiptoes, she demonstrated her feelings towards the tree. Its like a girl, looking out at the sea and leaning towards it. Her arms gracefully out and pointing down, breathing it all in. She's like a ballerina...
Its so interesting to listen to others describe your work. She went on and on about the rhythmic movement and the colors and concluded that any additions would ruin this feeling. She made me listen to Debussy's Reflections in the Water. She said my painting made her feel like that. Everything she said sounded like poetry to me. Had I actually captured that?
So here I am today. I have spots I still intended to develop further. Do I stop? Do I continue? The longer time elapses, the more I seem to overlook the passages that struck me as unfinished. There's no rush. Maybe I should begin another and then see how I feel about this one, remaining at this stage.
Perhaps I'll stop here and consider it an achievement. I can take my next one a step further to see if I can carry the poetry to the very end without loosing it.
Ooooh, so many stimulating thoughts... Its like being in competition with myself. Its a win win situation, or lose lose, depending on how you look at it.