Beauty and the Beast

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This past Friday evening at our local art league, I had the honor of presenting awards for their Spring Juried Exhibition of which I was the juror of entries and awards. Given the terrible events that began last week in Boston and West, Texas, I felt compelled to address how important it is that we, as artists, keep creating beauty. I may not have stated this as eloquently as I would have liked but I think everyone understood my meaning.

My husband has often said to me, “You have to keep painting, keep creating beauty…because there is too much ugly in this world.” He’s right, of course, because there will forever be no shortage of hate, anger and violence on this planet. Those beasts have reared their ugly heads since time began and unfortunately, will continue to do so.

While we, as artists, spend many solitary hours in our studios lost in creative endeavors it does not mean that we are not connected socially. On the contrary, our art is the thing that brings us closer and helps us process the bad stuff when it happens….then we hang it on a wall and hope it helps someone else.

Keep pushing paint, carving stone, chiseling wood, blending graphite and shaping glass as many have done before us in the midst of madness. Temper the Beast….with Beauty.

Cropping out the Bad Stuff.

This past week while working on a small painting I realized that something wasn’t right.  After studying the piece for some time I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t in love with the composition.  It wasn’t balanced enough.  I usually make these discoveries before I ever set paint to canvas but that wasn’t the case this time.  I had just completed the underpainting which would be my “road map” for every glazing layer of paint to follow.  My studio time is very limited so the idea of starting over did not appeal to me.  Dilemmas….what to do?  I decided to sleep on it. I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. with a dream in which the painting was displayed.  Immediately my mind started working on the problem at hand. Seriously?  What am I doing wide awake at this hour pondering this problem?  I finally dozed off without ever finding a solution.

The next day it occurred to me to just crop it.  Why not? Photographers do it all the time.  It just so happens that this particular piece was done on gesso board so I did some research on how best to cut the board with the least amount of damage.  I do not own the particular type of saw that was recommended so I contacted a friend who came to my rescue and agreed to do the deed for me.  I took a piece of plain white paper, measured out a “frame” to the dimension I wanted and after cutting out the inside of the paper frame I placed it over the painting and moved it about till I found the composition that worked.  More measuring, marking and taping ensued and I finally was ready for my friend to chop this thing up.  And she did.  Beautifully. 

I suppose that there are those who are cringing at the thought of cutting up a painting no matter what stage it is at.  I have no such reservations.  To me, this was no more upsetting than trimming the mold off of a chunk of cheese or skimming the lumps out of the gravy.  If it’s bad stuff it’s gotta go or you will never find peace with it.

Oh….and the painting?  I finished it up a few days ago and have slept like a baby ever since.