Woe is me. I sincerely thought I was done with Surprise in Surprise (see last post). Jim photographed the “completed” painting for me and I was ready to set it aside. After all, I’ve been working on this one for about 6 months. Don’t know why I’ve had such a struggle, but there you go–sometimes a painting just flies off the brush and onto the canvas and other times it is such a battle, not unlike hitting a brick wall. Anyway, I took another look at it and decided it wasn’t working AT All. I called in Jim, who made a suggestion. Diana Creighton, an artist and friend in Oracle stopped by and I asked for her advice. Then with a sigh, I tackled it yet again. So so sick of looking at this, but I just couldn’t put it away.

To reward myself for my persistence (stubbornness, stupidity?), I bought a really great cart at Costco, one which will allow me to keep my paints right where my pallet is, at just the right height, on wheels and with storage! Actually, Jim took pity and bought it for me. Hero that he is, he assembled it right away. As you can see there are several levels of empty bins. I have been so excited about using the top part, I haven’t finished with organizing the rest.

Costco wire rack

In addition to this new piece of equipment, I also decided to treat myself by starting a brand new painting and to relaunch into another that I’d started awhile back and hadn’t gotten very far on. My friend, the artist Nancy Reyner, (who besides being a fabulous painter is also the author of a wonderful book, The Acrylic Revolution), once told me that she likes to work on multiple paintings at multiple stages of development at a time. Her reasoning is that beginnings, middles and endings of paintings take different types of energy. Beginning a painting is very physical, takes lots of daring and broader physical action in order to quickly cover the surface. Middles take forever, require lots of thinking, moving about of various parts, adding color, changing color, stepping back, looking and continuing on. Middles are a slog. Endings are like finishing a puzzle, where the pieces just drop magically in place, at least that’s what happens in the most satisfying of endings.

So here is the beginning stage of this painting. I’ve worked on it a couple of days. Beginnings can be magical. Now I’m approaching the middle in which the struggle inevitable begins.

Beginning-Agua Caliente

After a few hours, I've covered the surface of the panel with thin washes of color and have begun to add some texture

This painting is more or less a middle. I’m at a point where there are parts I feel are working and I don’t want to mess them up. Yet there are other parts that need a lot of work still. This is where the “domino effect” comes into play. From past experience, I know that whatever I do in one area will affect how the rest looks. Before I know it I’m embroiled in thrashing around on the whole painting, despairing that I’ve ruined it. No matter how many times I go through the process, it’s always the same. You’d think I’d figure out a way to bypass this painful stage…

Middle, Pena Blanca Lake

At this stage, there are multiple layers of paint and texture, but it's far from done.

I’m hesitant at this point to say that Surprise is finished. And I want to change the name. But here’s a snapshot of the latest iteration. Alas, it’s not a Jim quality photograph and consequently is too light, but perhaps you can see the changes despite my bad photography. Done or not???

Surprise again