And How to Improve It (bad art)

Continued from my last post…  which was continued from this post

So, after a full day on Wednesday of adding more elements to my three main canvases and working a bit on the other three, they went from bad to worse. You are so lucky my camera didn’t chose to save any of Wednesday’s pictures – the Universe stepping in? So on Thursday morning I decided it required some drastic fixing. My solution

Starting Over gets a Start Over
Starting Over gets a Start Over

was to take a whole lot of gesso, add some ink to tone down the bright white, a little clear medium to make it not totally opaque – and obliterate them!

Well, mostly. I used a little more clear medium in the mix for the  next two.

The Coffee piece gets Foggy
The Coffee piece gets Foggy
Shadows Gets A Shadow
Shadows Gets A Shadow

OK, now what? I had covered the first piece so thoroughly that I didn’t have a clue what to do with it. The other two had enough shadows beneath that they gave me hints. This became the theme of the new efforts. Building again (don’t think the trash and some fresh canvas hadn’t crossed my mind), I got the most inspiration from the coffee piece – it still had a coffee bean and some coffee rings showing through pretty strongly – I raided the K-cup coffee maker in the office for collage elements.

The Fog Before Coffee - obviously more coffee needed!
The Fog Before Coffee – obviously more coffee needed!

It still looks like the bottom of the pot. 😦

Maybe the Spirals piece will yield better results.

In The Shadows - rebuild
In The Shadows – rebuild

That last cup was starting to kick in – a little more hope here. I still couldn’t think what to do with the first one, I had wiped it out so well it wasn’t speaking to me. All I could think of was “Starting Over”. Meanwhile I threw some elements at two of my other canvases.

Order and Chaos - more of the latter, I think.
Order and Chaos – more of the latter, I think.

Order and Chaos. It kind of says it all, yes? OK, so not a win.

What Goes Around...
What Goes Around…

What Goes Around… Also not a win, but not a pile of doo either. I decided that they were not ever going to hang in the Louvre no matter what I did to them. I called them done.

But while tinkering with these other pieces that first one that I covered over so well kept lurking in the recesses of my mind. “Starting Over” was the theme it acquired, not just a verb for my actions. I went back to it.

Starting Over - literally!
Starting Over – literally!

Hanging elements on it to try it out, texting pictures to my daughter who tends to act as a real life muse for me at times. Pondering, adding more, taking stuff away – no commitments yet. More coffee, more pondering. Tweak something else, come back to this. Rinse and repeat.

The Fog Before Coffee
The Fog Before Coffee

I decided this one had gotten enough tweaking, it wasn’t going to get any better – so I’m calling it done. It is still too busy and cluttered for my personal aesthetic. If you must see the coffee grounds I put in the final coat of gloss medium you can click on any of the images to enlarge them.

The “Shadows” piece was starting to look pretty good to me.


In the Shadows
In the Shadows

Now the hard part – keeping my mitts off of it! One of my biggest problems is knowing when to quit.

That leaves the final canvas. I had to make a commitment with “Starting Over”. My fear was that it was the last chance to make something from this week that I liked. I took a deep breath and opened the glue, medium, paint and ink bottles…

Starting Over
Starting Over

Again, I have to keep it simple, know when to stop. It’s a bit grungier than my usual work but I’m pleased. I like the sentiment too – and as my daughter told me (she is going to Grad School, taking Mythological Studies with an emphasis on Depth Psychology) “Good for you, Mom. That’s very Jung.” In fact, after a bit of distance, I really love this one.

By Friday at lunch I had finished my pieces and was actually happy with two – better than I had thought possible on Wednesday. And during lunch, we were all entertained by Diane H on the lunch table, taking a photo of her desert.

Diane's Desert being photographed for "art purposes"
Diane’s Desert being photographed for “art purposes”

Superman ice cream with a sprinkling of Fruit Loops. I hope she didn’t actually eat it, it looks pretty for art but not appetizing. I cropped her out of the photo in case she wouldn’t appreciate being exposed to the world acting like an art collage student. Oh wait! We all were, we were at an art college, after all. Snort!

Back in the classroom and afraid to even look at my (declared) finished work for fear of adding to it and ruining it I turned to some fresh canvas. I cut it into four small pieces and played with ink and paint.

My four Ink Blots paintings
My four Ink Blots paintings

I was originally making elements for future collage work but I like them as is. Maybe collage is just not my thing – or at least I need to keep the layers to a minimum. Would it be sacrilege to say these four are my favorite?

The big things I learned from this class; More is Not Better, more elements will not help, it just adds clutter, more color combined with lots of elements looks circus-ish, more angst does not a better work of art make. Coffee (or sometimes wine) will cure anything but, it’s better drunk than used as paint. And finally, the little erasers on the end of pencils are great stamps when you need just a spot of color!

Sorry this was so long but I wanted to share my great week. I’m already contemplating next year’s classes  🙂

Deb H

And How to Improve It (bad art)

2 thoughts on “And How to Improve It (bad art)

  1. Lynn says:

    You are way too hard on yourself. Not everything has to be perfect. And for the record? I like the coffee piece. I’ve always said, if you don’t like it, cut it up and rearrange it.


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