36″ x 36″ painting on canvas by Raven
I am struggling with a painting.
Some passages work like a dream. Color vibrates. Other parts look dead, lifeless. I change colors. Use different kinds of brushstrokes. New layers of paint. I thought it was finished many times. But later it was clear the bear wasn’t breathing. He looked wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.
I work on other canvases but keep coming back to this one. I give it a name to capture the power and majesty of a polar bear. He is awesome in my imagination. If I could just get him to come through these layers of paint.
The title taunts me. Polar Power. This painting might be a failure that I won’t be able to stir out of the ashes. Oh well. Work on another painting.
This morning I walk into the studio and gave myself permission to NOT work on the painting. I immediately feel relief. Pressure is off. Other studio work needs to be done. No painting today. Keep away from brushes and frustration for a day. Time for a cup of tea. Do some low stress, no pressure tasks.
I look at the bear taunting me while I sip tea.
Ok. I see what I want to do. Those passages that I thought were working… time to cover them up and try a different approach. I argue with myself. Leave it alone.
No, it is time to go for it. It is time to save it or burn it.
The tea is cold but the paint is hot
I grab the orange paint, my favorite cobalt teal, and cover up my troubled areas plus many of my favorite areas. It is time to be bold. The brush goes back and forth with warm and cool colors.
Orange is the heat of the bear, his body heat, his breath, his aliveness. The cold blues are the arctic bone chilling cold. The deep dark purple is the mystery of the polar night. The golden colors are the sunlight. Sunlit parts of the bear become the center of attention. We are drawn to the light.
Finally, the bear starts to emerge
Benzi orange pigment saves me. Suddenly I see my bear emerge and breathe. One of us growls. Yes. The painting has power and color surprises. I celebrate a victory. This was tough.
I share it with you.
Does it make your eye dance around the composition?