From over-thinking to rethinking a painting led to some life lessons as well.

What do you do with a painting that isn’t working? Stick it in the back of the garage or the back of the closet and forget about it? Leave it out where you can stare at it hoping a new idea will pop up? Keep piling more paint on it to see if eventually it may gel? I confess to doing all those things and more. Sometimes a painting will sit for years with me occasionally giving it the quizzical look. I may dab a spot of paint on it and look again. I may forget it altogether.

Life is like that too. There are things you stick in a dark corner hoping that sooner or later a solution will come to you. If you’re like me, there are things that sit in the dark forever. And there are things that I take out and stare at. Every now and then, I’ll throw a spot of paint at whatever the issue is. I can over-think almost to the death. I can over-think an issue so many times that I forget what the original issue was. What I rarely do is ask for another opinion. I either lock up that tired horse and forget about it or beat it to death instead of finding out what somebody else has to say about it.

Then, Out of the Blue, the solution will appear from where I least expect it and from a least expected source. But not like a bolt of lightening or blinding flash of inspiration. It comes gently, in a still quiet voice that says, “don’t over think, rethink.” Sounds simple. It really is. The problem is taking the time to stop, breathe and listen. I learned that lesson from this painting. It literally sat for over a decade in the back of the closet in the guest room. It was a hideous mishmash of bright garish colors. At the time, I didn’t realize those colors were blinding me to everything else about the painting. The colors hurt my eyes and made me want to look away. Avoidance was the name of the game until someone asked me if I could paint a painting in neutral colors for them . Bingo! I took a breath and began to rethink.

Instead of going into over-think over-drive, I got quiet and listened. I made up a palette of quiet neutral colors. As I concentrated on breathing, the still and the quiet came through. What emerged was made up of gentle strokes and soft peaceful color. What if I applied this approach to the problems of life? Instead of over thinking with harsh, garish responses, I could rethink gently with quiet neutrals. It worked for this painting. Maybe I can get it to work in other paintings and other areas of my life. We’ll see! In the meantime, it worked for a second painting too!

Once I gained an understanding of what happened with this painting, the 23rd Psalm popped into my head. Then I knew the real source of this direction.

“He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:..2-3

Sunday Slideshow–Water Reflections

Water Reflections

As the winter moves on it is a wonder to see the bare branches reflecting in the water.  Spring will soon be here and these leafless winter trees will be forgotten as fresh new green takes over.  But for now they peacefully hang over the water calmly reflecting in the surface and on the ice.

All the Lovely Pond Scum

Beauty is everywhere, but one may see the beautiful view and the other sees a dirty window.  You have the power within you to choose what you see, what you think and what you paint.”  Leanne Caddon (from The Painter’s Keys)Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 8.38.41 AM

To think of pond scum is to think of something slimy and dirty, naturally ugly, choking out beauty.  But is it?  Who decided that?  Is there some committee somewhere that decides what is lovely and what isn’t?  Or is it like a video going viral.  Somebody says, “That’s as ugly as pond scum.”  People hear it and think its funny so they repeat it.  Soon everybody thinks pond scum must be ugly and yucky even if they have never actually seen pond scum or even a pond.  It must be ugly because somebody said it was.

Artists frequently go against the grain or swim upriver.  When someone says something is ugly, somewhere an artist says, “No its not and I’ll show you!”  Stephen Bayley has written a book on the subject.  In an interview with Charlotte Cripps of The Independent, Bayley says he is “just provoking ideas about our assumptions of ugliness.”  The point of Bayley’s book, he tells Cripps, “is to challenge all our preconceptions about ugliness.”  The role of the artist is, not only to challenge but to prove those preconceptions wrong.

Walking along beside a pond, I noticed this beautiful velvety green film covering the surface with colorful fall leaves floating on top.  To me, it was beautiful.  To someone else, it is pond scum.  Check out the photo and see what you think.  If you agree with me that it is beautiful, the next time someone calls you, “Pond Scum,” you can respond with a heartfelt, “Thank you!”

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