It Tastes Like Ingredients


Yesterday I finally had to admit that “messing around” can sometimes just lead to a mess.

The new painting I so happily worked on last week and over the weekend became, finally, something I did not love. I was happy with the colors and the balance and the design.  But something was wrong that no amount of tweaking seemed to fix.  I’d added some pastel touches and liked the affect until I didn’t.  The more I looked at it, the more I knew I’d gone too far in one direction or another.

I was reminded of a friend’s effort years ago to make his own beer.  When he had a gathering to give us all samples, one of the others said hesitantly, “It’s not bad, but it tastes like – ingredients.”

The painting looked like ingredients.

Like every artist I know, I’m still learning.  This week I learned that messing around can lead to something new and rewarding, but can also just result in a mess.  I also learned that making a mess of a painting when you were hoping for something beautiful is part of the course.  (And, yes, what you learned will be on the final exam.)

In the old days, when writers messed up a piece of writing, they yanked the paper out of the typewriter, crumpled it up and tossed it in the wastebasket or – more  often – on the floor.

I can’t crumple up an 18 x 24 canvas and toss it on the floor, but I can grab the gesso.  Which I did.  Today I’m starting over, lessons learned, with a brave and happy heart eager to try again.

As the I Ching says, “No blame.”



2 thoughts on “It Tastes Like Ingredients

  1. And as Van Cliburn said, in his inimitable Texas drawl: “For the artist, the horizon is always receding.”

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