Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Want a ‘Undo’ Button On My Easel

Did you ever want an Undo button or a Do-Over button on your palette or easel? Just like the Cntrl-Z button combo on my PC? There used to be an undelete function when PCs were line command machines. Man I miss those days.
I started a new pastel piece in the studio with flowers and vase and teacup and Cobalt blue vase. I tried a new paper I do not normally use. I tried a new lighting  key and value backdrop for the background. I tried flowers I have never painted before – peonies.  OK, I know what you are thinking – what’s with all the changes? I was trying to get out of what I perceived to be a rutt in my approach to setups and works based on them. I was trying to see how successful or unsuccessful I could be by changing some of the variables.  I wanted something new to be excited about painting.
Section of Peonies and Tulips
Pastel on Wallis Paper
I found out. Some things worked OK. My drawing was sound, but I was so distracted by all the other variable changes, that I made a bonehead composition faux pas. (For non French speakers faux pas = idiot move.) I did something I have never done before. I placed three items across the page equidistant from each other. They couldn’t have been more equally spaced if I had measured them out. Now all I can see is the goof when I look at this piece. No other thing seems to be redeeming enough to make up for this; not the brightness of the colors, nor the immediacy of the strokes. It’s like the escaped nervous giggle at a funeral. Nobody ever forgets it, especially the originator.

So what to do? I wanted to rip it up and end its life. I didn’t. I began to think about its value as a lesson to myself. Whenever I see this piece I will be reminded to keep my eyes on the prize. To stay true to the initial concept. (You see I had moved the teacup, and that was after hours of doing a lovely setup.)

The second lesson was to limit the change of variables in a new piece. If you change a few things at a time, there would seem to be a bigger chance of success with the painting.

The pity is that some parts of this piece are acceptable. Shoot.

I want an undo button on my easel.


  1. Or look at it from the point of view that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to meet your Prince

    Messing up is normal and predictable. The only thing to worry about is if you do it too often!

  2. I admire you for being so open about something we all have probably
    done or still can do. You are a good painter and because of that you know what to do to correct it.
    It is the ability to be able to critique ones own work which l feel is an invaluable tool in becoming a better painter.
    I am always amazed at hearing group critiques where artists, eager to show their knowledge, can spout all the rules but not see it in their own work.
    I am still learning it myself.