Friday, February 13, 2009

When to call it quits

Summer Baromenter, 2008, (16 x 16) mixed media on canvas

Today I went looking for an image and found this misplaced documentation of a painting I sold last year. This piece had a long gestation period. I could never seem to get it just right and it kept me company in my studio for three years. One day last spring, it just happened! Soon after it was chosen for a juried fine art/craft show and sold to an American tourist. I like the thought that someone else can share the joy of my early years.

In this piece I wanted to capture both my memory of the physical aspects of the landscape where I grew up, and my feelings for the meadow where we played most days of summer vacations until I was a teenager. It was a time of freedom, where we were allowed to run rampant through tall grass, over rocks, along the water's edge and through the woods that bordered our property.

I find that when I create work that is intensely personal to me and I want to get it perfect, it hampers my free flow of ideas. Nothing is good enough, and I often refuse to follow up on ideas, throwing them on the reject pile before they have had time to grow. As a result, I either have a piece that ends up in my recycle pile or I have a piece staring at me for long blocks of time. The challenge is knowing when to call it quits. I'm glad I waited for this one.


self taught artist said...

its interesting isn't it how some pieces are so pointedly DONE while others never quite there, or at least they can sure seem endless.

glad you sold this to a tourist and found a way to feel done with it!

Mary Buek said...

Margaret, I love this piece. It's amazing from a distance, and then when you see it up close, you don't know what to take in first. To me, that's great art.

Margaret Ryall said...

Thanks Mary. I get so frustrated with how much information you lose when you have one photograph. It is very important to take a closer look by enlarging the piece. I do have a lot of information in this piece and it definitely reads better in the flesh. One of the reasons I like working in layers is to attract the viewer to come closer and take a good look.

Knowing when to say it's done is a problem for me. I often go to homes where my work is on display and want to take a piece back home and add something. Thankfully I'm not allowed. This piece went to someone from Cambridge, closer to you than to me.

Patrice said...

I so understand how you feel. I have a problem selling work in that if I like it too much - as is what happens when I agonize over certain ones - I don't want to let it go.

I'm beginning to find that if I have lots of photos of my work, then it's less difficult to put it out there.

I really like the painting - and I agree it's so springlike!

Laura said...

I really love the surface texture that you've made, very lush like a sun-filled meadow or the sparkling surface of a pond, it's gorgeous! There are some paintings that just take more time than others...I've had a few sit on the easel for weeks, they collect some dust along with a few frustrations and baleful glares, and then I finally find what I want to do with them. Then there are some that are just done because that is how they are! Part of the fun is the challenge, it's so satisfying when I finish one that has been especially difficult. Then there are some I don't want to talk about. It always surprises me what ones sell, and what ones don't (and sometimes one is sold that I didn't want to sell!) I never know for sure how they will be received, and it's always a treat to know who has bought them. I was just delivering new work to the gallery this week and the manager was commenting how she loves everything I do, not a bad one in the lot...but there are some not so good ones that will never see the light of day (but I keep them anyway), there are some that I make specifically for people I want to give one to, and a few treasures that I will always keep for my personal collection for that picture book that I will make someday.

Margaret Ryall said...

I am always amazed by the amount of work I create that I am fine with sending on it way to new homes or at least the possibilities of new homes. Then there are the scattered few that I just cannot part with. These are usually ones that mark some self assigned or recognized milestone in my progress. I like to think about them as markers. I have one sitting on my wall now. Thanks for giving me an idea for another post. I agree that being able to go back and visit in a photograph is a the next best thing.

Margaret Ryall said...

Laura ...and everyone who ever responds,
One of the things I like about blogging is the extended audience available to respond to your work, the struggles of creation and the business of art.

Creating art is a solitary pursuit for the most part, and I find most of my conversations are with myself. Sending a thought out in cyberspace and having people respond brings you either new perspectives or affirmations of your own ideas. It is such a supportive arena. I'm not saying that all responses should only affirm the artist's take. I am a great believer in the importance of critical response- response that is the result of in depth consideration of the work. Working on a piece can be a very narrow experience and there are often huge "holes" that the artist can miss because one is too close to the work. These are the kinds of conversations I find the most helpful. When I was teaching children strategies to use to respond to the writing of others, I used a two point conversation frame that really worked well. One thing I really like about your work...One thing you could think about supports the creator's efforts and also asks him/her to extend personal consideration of the work. I feel another topic for a post coming on. Will I ever create again or just write about it?