Instincts are an interesting thing. Often they are loud and obvious and help you make the right decision in the moment. It's super convenient when that happens. Sometimes, though, an instinct can be quieter, whispering in the background. You can hear it, but sometimes think it was a mistake, or you heard wrong. But that little voice keeps whispering, and one day you turn around and hear exactly what that instinct is saying, clear as day.
I had a quiet but persistent instinct whisper in my ear throughout the course of completing The Color of My Sky collection. I felt so good about the paintings that I created. I loved getting back into the flow of my artistic process, experimenting and playing on the canvas. I was confident about each and every painting - except one. Originally titled "Endless Spring," I completed this painting pretty early on in the process of building this collection, so it had been "finished" for a couple weeks. When I made this painting, I could sense that something wasn't quite right about the piece. My instincts were telling me that this painting wasn't finished, but looking at it, I had checked all of the boxes, and it was technically done. What my instincts were saying, though, was that, yes, this painting may be done by my standards, but it wasn't really finished.
Towards the end of creating this collection, I started painting quite boldly, starting with a standout piece, Girl Crush. She was bright pink and I loved her. She stands out in this collection because of the bright color palette, and I think adds a bit of jazz to the collection in the best way possible. After finishing "Girl Crush" I finally knew what to do with that little voice in the back of my head telling me to come back to "Endless Spring."
So what did I do? I completely changed the painting and painted over it.
What was once a crisp clear day with a blue sky and deep green grass became a cotton-candy-colored scene, with lavender fields and pink skies. Since oil paints are somewhat transparent, you could still see hints of the original color palette, and the new colors had the most wonderful effect because of all of the layering. I've talked about my layering process before, but this time seemed to be the ultimate example of what bright layers underneath can do to the surface of a painting.
Once I was truly pleased with the painting, the little voice in my head was silent - I knew that this painting really was finished.
I learned some important lessons in the process of painting the piece now called "Cool Down." First, I can never deem one painting too precious. Part of the reason I am an artist is for the process of painting, and the finished product is just a great result of that. The finished result, however, can be adjusted if the process is not really complete. At first, "Endless Spring" seemed too precious to mess up, despite that annoying voice in my head telling me otherwise.
Second, I was reminded of how empowering it can be to be the one in charge. The painting doesn't own me, I own it. I can change it if I want, and there's no one that can tell me otherwise.
Third, the process is EVERYTHING. Some of the greatest successes I've had in my business came from times when I let myself play and do something I'd never done before. It's too easy to slip into the categories of what I "do" and "don't do," which is limiting and completely not the point of being an artist. It's really true of any creative endeavor that if you're not changing, you're not growing. If I decided to take the safe route, I certainly wouldn't be trying to make it as an artist. And at the end of the day, if I want to paint purple grass and pink clouds, who's going to stop me?