Not Every Brushstroke Is Golden

You’ve heard me say it before. It still remains true.

There are just times when a painting needs help. Overcoming the fear of changing a painting is the true challenge. Recently I’ve had to rethink my stance on dating paintings. Until now, I’ve put the year a painting was done on the front beneath my signature. But what happens when a painting isn’t as done as I thought it was?

I had finished Windswept Angel in 2009 (or so I’d thought). I’d been in a rush trying to finish it for a show, and that was my first mistake. Never rush a painting just because you want to be done with it and show it off. I knew better than this, but I did it anyway. Here’s a look at the original:

Windswept Angel
20x16 Acrylic on Canvas
© 2009 Dawn Blair

I knew there was something wrong with it. The eyes bugged me and I hated having so much thick hair across her face. It made her look like she was wearing a scarf or something. I know that if I hear that nagging voice, then I really need to listen to it. So I put it back up on my easel.

With a deep breath, I started working on the painting again. I was terrified of messing it up. Terrified! Not that I’m afraid of destroying a painting gone wrong, but I really didn’t want to repaint over the canvas. I liked this picture. It just needed help. So what if my “help” ruined everything?

I’m proud to say that that I didn’t ruin it. In fact, I made the correction exactly as I wanted. Here it is:

Windswept Angel
20x16 Acrylic on Canvas
© 2010 Dawn Blair

So now the painting is dated 2009, but actually finished with the correction in 2010. Yep, a good reason not to date the canvas itself. My art program I can change to reflect it accurately. I can even add a note, but who wants a scribbled note at the bottom of a canvas? Or maybe I could scratch out the year and write the correct one like I do on my checks. Just kidding! I’m chalking it up to a “live and learn” experience. Be sure to check out the painting on my website for all the details.

Have you ever had any “live and learn” experiences like this?

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6 Responses to Not Every Brushstroke Is Golden

  1. ericloiselle says:

    I’ve re-worked/fixed painting before but I didn’t run into your problem because I always sign and title paintings on the back. I feel that is has helped me in the long run, especially since more of my work is open for interpretation.

    • dawnblair says:

      I’ve seen many artists sign on the back too. I thought about it, but knowing my luck, my paintings would all experience bleed-through! I could put down several layers of gesso and I know this would happen. I also like having my name on the front because then if someone sees my painting at a friend’s house, they know who the artist is without having to take the painting off the wall. Too hard to identify artists if they don’t put their name on it or if they only put their initials on this. Do you know how many artists have signed their painting as C.R.? I don’t want someone to have to work so hard to find me. Just my thoughts though. Let me know what you think. Glad to see you here and I hope to see more of your comments.

      • ericloiselle says:

        I understand your point about having to look behind a painting to view the artist’s sig. Though, some artist like, Pollock/Dali/Escher/Rothko etc, you can tell their paintings right off the bat. That’s another battle we fight as well. Do we want to find our style and work in it, hone our skills and master what we started, or venture out and not stop until we feel sufficient? I’ve probably shot myself in the foot for doing both.

      • dawnblair says:

        At least we all know we’re not alone in the struggle; we all have these same thoughts and feelings. Strangely beautiful, like a wonderful painting, isn’t it?

  2. Judy says:

    I learned a long time ago, that a painting is never completely finished until it is sold and out the door, and hanging in someone’s else house.

    • dawnblair says:

      Hi, Judy.

      I so agree with you. I’ve destroyed my fair share of paintings that didn’t get away from me fast enough to be saved. Even today I was looking at one of my paintings hanging in a friend’s office and thought about how it so needed changes. I might have to “repossess” it long enough to make the changes.

      “Movies aren’t release. They escape.” — George Lucas

      George, the same is true for paintings! And novels!

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