A fresh eye

I have been struggling a bit to hold onto my tiny studio schedule, but I am holding on, and so grateful to be able to do so!

Above you can see the notes I make so I can keep track of my goofily complicated colors. For example, this note shows my current gray is a combination of alizarin crimson, phthalocyanine green, phthalocyanine blue, titanium white, and a tiny bit of Utrecht yellow. Especially when working fewer hours each day, if I don’t do this, I will waste precious time remixing and recalibrating.

I have been appreciating the one benefit of having had a prolonged interruption in work: it’s terrible for basically everything skill-wise but it does give you a fresh eye for all of your work in progress.

Normally I wind up staring at pieces for hours and hours a day, and I have all kinds of tricks to get a fresh eye while working more regularly: looking from an unusual distance, taking the piece off the easel and putting it on a wall, even using a mirror to look at it.

But nothing beats good old-fashioned time.

You remember that quote I have in the studio about Bonnard sneaking in to make the tiny changes to his piece? I can guarantee you that happened because time passed and he saw his work in a new space and a new light and now he had his fresh eye and could see exactly what needed to be fixed. And then how can you resist?

Also, painters are a little nutty.

But for me the fresh eye meant I could suddenly see exactly what needed to happen with some of my largest Commence pieces. Cue a really loud groan because what I saw meant lots and lots more work. But lots more work that equals a satisfactory piece is well worth it, so I have been chipping away at it, little by little. And the piece that is starting to emerge is as I imagined it could be, which is a relief.

I don’t have a lot to show you, and I feel a little shy about some of them still, but I do think some of these sections on my largest piece are getting appropriately “juiced” (when they really function, they should be almost visually electric).

It occurred to me this week that I am hoping the same for us as a culture.

I don’t think there’s much benefit to our disconnecting in so many ways during COVID (among other challenges), but I am hopeful that one great gift can be that with a fresh eye, we can at least now see more clearly what work needs to be done.

And while I’m sure we can cue another, far louder groan about how much work there is, I do believe the hardest part is actually the seeing. Once you know what to do, the work itself becomes a pleasure.

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