Sunday, December 27, 2009

Deja Vu and Left Turns

As the year comes to a close, I want to thank those of you who have become followers of this blog. I truly appreciate all of you.

Does this sound like deja vu? . . .

"Last post I promised you a very cool surprise. The plan was to unveil it this weekend, and as creative endeavors often go, it had a plan of it's own. Since it's important to make certain that this project is the best it can be, we'll just take a little bit longer to cross all the t's and dot all the i's. Be patient. It'll be worth it. I promise. . ."

Like herding cats, the project I've been tantalizing you with has proven to be harder to master than anticipated. It's not that it's gone haywire, it's really going quite well. And it's not that those involved are not able to carry it off. In fact, it's because those involved are immensely talented and capable that this project is taking longer than anticipated.

Creative endeavors are hard to pin down. It's difficult to discern when they're "good enough". That "before idea" doesn't always jibe with the actual result, and working at it can be enlightening and frustrating. It takes time to release that original idea as well as connect with the new product.

I rarely spray my pastels with fixative. My experience is that regardless of how careful I spray, or how expensive the fixative is, the painting changes. Those tiny droplets of resin grab the pastel dust, and separate and darken the marks. At the point at which I would spray a finished painting, I've determined that it's, well, finished. That means that it meets my expectations and hopes. It's done, and I mark that moment of done-ness by signing the surface.
At that point I don't want it to change anymore.

However . . .

In a newsletter received recently I noticed a remark by an artist I adore and admire, who was extolling the virtues of fixing pastels. And her belief was backed up by experts in the field. So I tried it. My first spray with the fixative produced a lovely field of freckles across the soft greys of my quiet painting. I sprayed it again, hoping to merge the freckles into one lovely complexion. Nothing doing, the fix layed on the surface like a wet plastic sheet, just like I was afraid it would. (Lest you tsk at me, I promise you I read the directions, and followed them to the letter.)

@2009 P Scarborough Square 9 First Version

@2009 P Scarborough Square 9 Second Version

As you can see, colors change. Strokes change. Plans change.

Detail: Streetlight from Square 9, First Version

Detail: Streetlight from Square 9, Second version

The interesting thing is, after I got over the initial shock and panic and nausea, vertigo, hives...headache...and general heebie-jeebies...

I like it. As painful as it was for me to admit, I like the second version better. I enhanced a spot or two, and carefully tended to a few more passages. In the end the 2nd version is interesting and exciting, perhaps more so than the first. Now, that's not to say that I'll ever, ever use fixative again. (I stand by my position: Fixative changes pastels. If I ever ever use it again, it'll be as part of the process of painting, and not to "finish it".) Despite my careful planning, despite my education and experience, this project took an unexpected left turn. Letting go of the original plan, and going with the flow allowed a pretty darned good painting to find its way.

So the project I've been taunting you with for the last 2 weeks will come soon. When it does, it'll be just what the artist wanted - or better. When it's done, signed, sprayed and finished . . . you'll be among the first to know. I promise.


Kaylyn said...

Maybe the fixative can become part of your process and be used during the development of the work??

You control the fixative, it does not control you! Although you might get a bit high from the fumes if not careful.

Look at it this way, at least you didn't accidentally grab the spray MOUNT instead of the spray FIX. I did that once...

Patricia said...

Agh! Spray mount??!! I must admit, I've never ever done that one. That would be tough to the pun...

Karine said...

I am on your side. I never fix my pastels, either. It does change the surface, the colors, the values, etc. I have a long story about it, which I will email to you if you want. However, I like your willingness to give it a try and your courage to admit to liking it! Happy New Year, my friend!