Fuck 'em! It's Friday and the few creative rules I have went out the window last night as I reworked one of my older pieces, one of the last pieces from the series I painted about my first trip to the UK in 2013. I've painted over some of my older pieces before. This sometimes happens when they stick around too long, get shuffled from cafe to one gallery and to another and don't find themselves a home. Or sometimes I come across them in my archive and think NOPE! You won't do anymore. What the hell was I thinking? I have lost count of the number of pieces out there that are really a 2-for-1 or even a 3-for-1. When I'm dead and famous and they do a retrospective on my work, they can collect the pieces, have them x-rayed and publish their findings.
So, back in July of 2013 I nervously boarded a plane and left Canada by myself. It was terrifying and exciting. I landed in London Gatwick, and met up with a friend that was living in London at the time. After five very full, bloody hot days (Oh yea! Lucky cool weather-loving me came to London while a heatwave was on. I packed for cool and rainy, and got +30!) I got on a train and headed to the small town of Frome. When I arrived, it was still hot, and I was tired and locked out of my accommodation which happened to be the home of a friend of mine who splits here time between her home in Frome and her home in Ottawa. The tenant of the rental suite above the car park was away for the weekend and had locked it up tight. Really tight. Like, I had a good cry on the neighbor's driveway across the street while I charged my phone and made panicked calls to Jason and my friend who was back in Ottawa while the neighbor's son hopped over the fence and unlocked the carport door for me from the inside so I could go and retrieve the key my friend had hid for me so I could get into the locked garden and subsequently the house where I was supposed to be able to get into without the crying and B & E type help from the neighbors across the road I would otherwise never have met kind of tight.
Now those same neighbors keep an eye on the house for my friend while she is in Canada. They know each other now. It's nice how things work out.
Besides a rocky introduction, Frome was lovely. On one of the days I took just to wander and explore the little town on yet another uncharacteristically hot summer day for the Somerset area of England (sigh) I came across the loveliest little park; Rodden Meadow. I was just following a road which led to a heavily treed path, which I did think for a moment in the back of my mind might not be the smartest thing to be on by myself, in a strange town, but nonetheless....when in Frome!
It was a very long, narrow green space, surrounded by huge trees, filled with tall grass and sort of separated into two sections by a few trees that made a lovely doorway to the bigger field. This is a photo I took of my entryway into the smaller field. There was a bit of a wooden fence and an old weathered sign. You can kind of see it in the photo. I came back to this park twice. I love finding spaces like this when I visit a new place! I made some drawings in my travel journal as well, and when I got back home to Edmonton, I included this as one of the photos I wanted to paint for my series 'i went to England'.
This is what the piece looked like:
It hung in my show at the Sugarbowl for a while, then it made it's way to the Gallery on Main in Lacombe, and then to the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, and eventually back to my studio here in Edmonton. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It had some interest, and almost sold in the first show at the Sugarbowl, but then the buyer saw one of my east coast paintings, and bought that instead. Normally I would just paint over the whole thing in my favorite base color of iron oxide red, but I thought I would challenge myself instead to use the old painting as a base and rework it. One of those silly creative rules I made. Start again, don't rework it. Fuck it!
I like the colors and the spaces I blocked in, but working with that much green at the time was not something I was comfortable with. There is a lot of green in this piece! I try and challenge myself by painting subject matter that makes me use different colors in my palette. Sure, I have my favorite colors, but even those have changed over time. Or the combinations thereof. Reworking mixed media pieces is odd too because of some of the textures of the paper I laid down in the initial painting. If you cover it, the texture still shows through, and then I feel like it's a waste to cover over the nice papers. There is a method: base color, outline, first patterned paper layer, first self-leveling gel layer, blocking in all the color, tissue layer, second self-leveling gel layer to prepare for drawing in final details with acrylic ink and adding spatter, signature and then done.
My creative rules. Fuck 'em. I made a huge mug of tea, put on my favorite Laura Marling album (Once I Was An Eagle. I listened to it every night in my little garden hide-a-way in Frome while I touched up the day's sketches with my watercolors and drank a lot of delicious ciders.) and got to reworking the painting.
Ten minutes in, I stood back and had a look. My heart sank. I hated it. But the nice thing about painting is that there are always three options:
1. STOP! and pour yourself a bourbon to ease the pain of the apparent fuck-up, and come back to it later.
2. keep going! and pour yourself a bourbon to aid in the creative flow. and turn up the music a bit.
3. paint over it. and pour yourself a bourbon and pretend like that painting just never happened. eliminate all evidence by deleting pictures of it off your social media accounts, and maybe pour another bourbon.
I kept going. There was no bourbon. (I will remedy that today at some point.) At some point I stepped back and was really happy with what was taking shape. I put the finishing touches on it this morning.
I like how the texture of the tissue paper reappeared under some of the fresh yellow I lightly dragged over top of it with my painting spatula. I drew in some of the larger masses a bit better with black and then worked it in with three shades of green. I added some light blue details for interest and pop in some of the grasses on the path and some of the leaves in the wall of trees at the back. It was looking better! Seeing my painting style from 3 years ago up against my current style of painting was a bit of a shock. I didn't think my style and approach had changed that much. What the hell do I know?
All this to say, that this painting is now finished and will be posted to my Instagram feed as an open bid. It was a fun project, but this piece needs a home. If you like this painting and want to bid on it, just follow 'justlittleart' on IG and leave your bid in the comments beneath this photo. I will post the details on my IG account.
It's been a good week for learning things.