Tuesday, April 7, 2009

some days you do

and some days you don't..

I admit I have very high expectations of myself which rarely come to fruition in reality. I'll start with an idea and limitless possibilities then get bogged down. I can't think of anywhere else to take this one so it's done for now and as is my usual habit I'll put it away for a couple of months so I don't give into the temptation of tearing it up.

I'm out of practice and it shows. I see the mistakes wish I hadn't made. Why couldn't I have taken a little more time? Why did I take this approach rather than that one? Am I in control or just hanging on for dear life?

That's it. Too much control and watercolors don't allow rewrites. Good thing everything else is perfect but I wanted this to be much closer.


  1. Wow, this is beautiful, Susan!

    I cannot find what you are talking about in your post...I see only beauty and great character development, very fine draftsmanship, humor, respect for your subjects. Wonderful color play...and layering of same.

    Brava, Susan! Fine work!

    Do you work as an illustrator for children's books? You certainly could!

  2. ...and PLEASE do not destroy this! I will hold it in safekeeping if you don't trust yourself to not tear it up.

  3. Sorry, I didn't stop to read. I saw and rushed to tell you how much I love it. It's so lovely. In so many ways you seem to know me better than I know myself. Essence. The colors are lovely.

    I would certainly echo The Crow. Wow is right! And do not, I beg you, do not destroy this art. I'm a bit superstitious about such things.

  4. I love the faraway look on her face. What is she contemplating?

  5. Okay, now I've read what you had to say about it. I always used watercolor just this way. I like the very controlled use of watercolor. It's unexpected. And yet you still get that transparent feeling in the layering of the color in the skirt, for instance. It's perfect as it is. Do not mess with perfection my friend.


  6. I've had a bit of an explore here since you commented at my blog, and your work is beautiful, including this one! They look like illustrations for fairy tales in the best books that I just adore! Like The Crow asked, have you worked as an illustrator?

  7. susan you are like me, second guessing yourself right into tearing it up ... and don't you dare! it's lovely, different and I like that difference ... there is something very compelling about the woman and the cat... I adore the cat! and I like the way you seemed to hold back a bit on the paint and it's intensity, it seemed...maybe not...anyway, I like it and think you will too if you let it rest awhile... you are not feeling well so nothing is going to look good to you, perhaps... next week, it will look better, or whenever YOU feel better, then it will too.

  8. Only you can see the flaws - it looks perfect to me. Interesting and beautiful. Believe in yourself! Crow is right.

  9. wow, nobody has to beat you up, because you already did it yourself.
    so, i enlarged your watercolor and looked at it really closely, to try to see what you are looking at so critically.
    what is it?
    what is it?
    oh! the smiley-faced mask has a deflated condom hanging underneath it?
    ok i'm being funny.
    seriously, if you're not happy with it, move on to something else. you don't have to be perfect every time, all the time.
    the next thing you make might be everything you want and more.

  10. liberality - Okay, so I'm a terrible judge in this case :-)

    crow - There's nothing in particular I could point to and say that's where it went wrong but it's a somewhat different piece for me and will take some time to accept.

    I was offered a job at Hallmark once but didn't want to move to Kansas. Does that count?

    ps - thanks for the offer..

    utah - The inspiration was different this time than my usual experience of just inventing a character. When I paint I work both fast and slow and some of the quick decisions were the right ones.. maybe most of them. I'm glad to know you like it.

    btw - The face is based on your striking avatar but I sat in front of a mirror with my arm resting on a chair to get the angle and pose to fit. So in a way it's both of us.

    lisa - What do any of us contemplate in repose?

    marja-leena - Welcome to phantsy. I love your beautiful photographs too and will return. In answer to your question, I am an illustrator and have had shows but not for a long time now. My 'baby days' blog is the only book I ever wrote and drew.

    linda - Yes, it's my usual habit to freak out immediately after finishing a piece or wondering if it's finished. Maybe that's why I do the borders.. as a way of backing out slowly. This one doesn't have a border yet but there's room for one if I go back. I'm really not feeling very well right now and I'm disappointed I didn't bounce right back but I'm bruised, swollen and can't really go outside where people will see me. The painting is in a portfolio to rest for a little while.. not to be tossed.

    sera - I do beat myself up pretty good, don't I? Why give anybody else the chance?
    I enjoy symbolic references.
    I try to be subtle.
    You found one :-)

  11. Okay, I can understand a critical artist eye, but go easy on yourself. This is lovely. I would give my few remaining brain cells to be so talented.

    The Crow is correct. Don't tear it up. If you're not happy with it, share it with someone who will treasure it. There are many of us!

  12. pyzahn - I think I had a problem with showing it in process and it may still be unfinished but I won't toss it. Promise. Thank you very much for your visit and message.

  13. I love the elegance of this painting. I also love the self possession of the woman in the painting and her comfort with her power.

  14. See, Susan? We're a great combo. My hair is starting to look like that. And I do have a far away look sometimes. I drift and dream. Could be because I'm stoned half the time. But always languidly fierce. I'm no longer quite that angular, but always was before. I'd happily post it on my sidebar. But permission would have to come first. Anyway, I love it.

  15. Susan – in the best tradition the painting bears your imprint with its passion, with whatever faults beam back to you.

    I thought it looked lovely; always there is the fateful temptation to succumb to ones’ perceived faults and not ones merits.
    best wishes

  16. belette - Nicely put :-)

    utah - Of course you may. Do you want me to send you a copy?

    lindsay - I'm happy you liked it and yes, it's easy to find fault with oneself but who else can give us an honest account?

  17. really? that was something consciously symbolic? lol and i thought i was reading too much into it. it makes me appreciate your art even more.

  18. I wanted to come back to elaborate on what I meant with "Wonderful color play...and layering of same." but Peggy said it for me. I imaginged a diaphanous layering of two or three colors of silk chiffon, a fabric I think befits her.

    I like coming back to look at it again and again.

    Perhaps you will begin painting for show again?

  19. sera - I was just trying to be suggestive :-)

    the crow - Layering is fun whether it's silk chiffon or paint that doesn't end up looking like cement. I'm glad you returned to say more.

    There was a time I used to get very excited about showing my work in galleries but no longer. I will keep painting but other than posting a new one now and again I won't go looking for that kind of affirmation.

  20. I wasn't thinking of it from the affirmation point of view (but, then, I'm not the artist, either) but from a share-your-gift-with-those-of-us-who-have-none-but-love-to-see-yours. (Man, that has to be the most hyphens I've ever used in one sentence!)

    (Since I've never had anything to show, I don't know what it would be like to endure the insufferable remarks some art viewers feel entitled to make.)

    That's okay, though, because I don't live close enough to come to your showings anyway, so I'll continue to look forward to them here!


  21. I love it, too. I just love the imagery. I think it is unanimous; we all love it.

  22. the crow - Perhaps sometime I'll write about an experience or two I had with gallery shows. I do remember one guy telling me I appeared to have unresolved mother issues but I was too young at the time to understand that was a common occurrence. Hah!

    Yes, whatever I do I'll post up here and keep the originals in a portfolio for now, at least.

    border explorer - I'm glad to know that's settled :-) and nice to see you again. I haven't visited enough but I've been keeping my eye on the border too and not enjoying the view.

  23. Let me second (or twenty-second) everyone else in saying I dig this piece, but I can sympathize with your viewpoint as the creator of it. I cringe when you or someone says they like one of my poems and all I can think of how crappy this line sounds, and how that line is gobbledygook, etc, etc. We're our own harshest critics.

  24. randal - It's kind of like showing up at a party in your underwear, eh? Although all the paintings I love I didn't paint (nor would I know how) I still have a need to express myself in the world. At least this one has spurred me to do a new story for the neglected Adventure's Ink.

    We do what we're able to do and interpretation is up to the viewer, or reader in your case. I really do enjoy your poetry.

  25. Sometimes the greatest works of art are consider so because of its imperfections; perceived though they may be.

    But like my friend Liz tells me about performing live music: never stop and acknowledge a mistake and just keep playing. Your audience will never know you screwed up.

  26. spartacus - I'm my own biggest critic but try not to be my own worst enemy. It's often difficult to keep the two separated, isn't it?

  27. I never know when to listen to the little voice that tells me about what's wrong with my own work. Sometimes he's just full of crap - other times he's telling me what I know but don't want to hear. Like you, the best solution seems to be time... Let it rest and come back later. Sometimes all it takes is an overnight. Sometimes it takes months. Sometimes the piece really does need some drastic work, but after a few weeks or months I'm ready to face it. Other times it's fine and the censor was just doing his usual whining. For me, being a painter is largely about learning to ignore that annoying voice.

    I love this piece of Utah - I think it works well as a composition AND as a likeness of what we all see of the Utah Savage online. I like the comedy and tragedy faces in the background - they work both as symbols and by creating more of the Eastern air of mystery that is in her expression, in her garments, and in the tiger... They remind me of djinn.

    I "collected" it now, but I'm looking forward to a border on it later.

  28. steve - I'm very glad you're back and hopefully the intense worktime is done for a while because I really enjoy your educated and understanding commentary. I've learned it's very difficult for me to work in the public eye and I definitely telegraphed this one, having as a central image an iconic figure in our corner of the blogosphere. It generally takes me a long time to paint a picture because of my need to visualize detail and the only way I know to draw grass is blade by blade. When I rush, as I did with the Savage Utah in repose, I overrode my usual careful layering in order to present something I felt was expected even though it probably was only expected by me.

    I like most of the parts myself, including the skirt of the dress that has a sculpted appearance. The unchanging aspect of ourselves that can become rock-like with time is an interesting concept to explore. The little black lines in the background seemed like a good idea until I realized they weren't what I wanted there and by then it was too late. Maybe I'll go back and darken those areas or perhaps it may emerge from the portfolio for border work. Time will indeed tell. Next time I undertake a painting I'll photograph the progress but won't post anything until it's done.

    I'm happy you have it in your collection and I am thumbnailing some new Adventure stories. Those are just plain fun.