“If you don’t know what you are making, how do you know when to stop?” That’s a reasonable question. Yet it’s difficult to answer. Maybe I can answer it with a personal story. I started a new job at the end of August 2013. It’s in a completely unrelated industry – a real suit and tie type of place. When I went on my initial interview, we arrived at the question and answer portion. I brazenly asked if I could remove the existing art work and replace it with my own. (How’s that for bold?)
I got the job, and it was quite a transition. I’m the only woman in the office (keep in mind that my previous work environments were the reverse – mostly or entirely female). I’m also the only aesthete. Making something for this shared space really preoccupied my thoughts. It had to be appealing to an audience I knew very little about, and one that would have only one real strong opinion about the work – if they didn’t like it.
This made me try doing a series of small studies on paper. I used all kinds things, just doodling all over the page. I used crayons, and colored pencils and markers, and pens, and ink. When I started with ink, I used a brush to draw circles all over the paper. Then I made circles with different colored markers. Finally, I traced the circles with water and a brush. The effect? The colors started to bleed out. All of the sudden, I saw rain drops hitting a puddle. That’s when I knew to stop. When I start to see something – like seaweed or rain drops – the picture is complete. A feeling of finality washes over me. (New to my site? You should read my previous post – the first in the series of explaining the unexplainable.)
So I had an idea with I approached this canvas. This allowed me to complete the painting very quickly. I applied the blue base coat. Then, I swirled silver paint onto a brush, and whipped the handle in little circles. I’d have to dip the brush into the can of paint and pull it out quickly – this lets more paint settle on the brush than taking it out slowly. I mixed black oil paint to a thin consistency and did the same thing.
I let it dry for a week and half. It still needed something, so I decided to spatter yellow paint on the surface. One of the guys commented: “Hey! It looks great with yellow.” That was another sign I knew this version was complete – someone so far removed from art could judge it favorably. A man that I did not know well that had no previous interest in art liked the painting. I’d say that’s a good point to stop.
It took another few weeks to decide where to hang it, and which type of frame would look best. Here’s the finished product:
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