I learned just a month or two ago that there are a couple of local art competitions coming up that could be very good exposure. I’d love to have something spectacular to enter in each of them – one’s in April and the other in June, so I have some time.
I started this painting with those competitions in mind but I’m not happy with it. The shrub to the right is poorly defined, and even worse in placement. I committed the foolish mistake of painting it in because it was in the reference photo. I need to remember – everything in my painting needs to have a reason for being there. “It was there in the original scene” doesn’t cut it. While there are good moments – like the sky and bits of trees and foliage here and there, for the most part, it’s 660 square inches’ worth of mess.

So I’m going to try what I should have done in the first place – what a smart artist does when facing an opportunity to stink or shine – I’m going to fool around and paint for fun for a while. In fact, right now, I’m working on something that started from my imagination – no reference photo or even specific subject. The first brush stroke turned into a flower, of course (that’s just me) but what kind it is will have to depend on the opinion of the observer.Playing with paint means I get to forget trying to strive for semblance and enjoy the process. I love the way the colours mingle in a wet-in-wet watercolor wash, and the way the edges are lost, and then found again. The first wash always gives this glimpse of emerging beauty, and a rich potential, though there’s also this risk that I will cover that promise with layers of stilted “should’s.” Far better to forget the rules and explore the “what if’s” and if a painting turns out, then I can consider exhibition.

That’s my way of doing things – sometimes a deadline can cause us to get in gear and realize that inner masterpiece, but more often I find success comes when I’m painting for me and me alone.