I had an abstract painting in the works for more than a year. I really liked it … BUT … something wasn't quite working. I would pull it out every so often and do a bit and I liked what was happening BUT … still something wasn't quite working and I'd put it away again. As usual, the problem was that I was married to my original vision. It wasn't until recently when I finally, just to see if I could get a different perspective on it, tried changing the colours, thinking that an element might look more interesting in a different colour. And somewhat stunned, I realized that the WHOLE THING looked better in a different colour scheme. I went from blue green with a bit of purple, that looked too monochromatic and murky, to brown, rust, gold and green. I initially thought of it as a seabed then realized it looked better as decaying plant material in autumn. Who knew?! Not me, obviously, as I spent more than a year trying to force it to look the way I thought it should look.
And the truth is … it's not really my colours. I have a few realism paintings with some similar colours in them but mostly I lean to cool hues - bright blues and turquoises, purples etc, especially in the abstracts. But damned if the thing didn't have more pizzazz in those “non-Chris” autumnal colours. And so I stepped outside my preconceived ideas of what it needed to look like, and went with it.
And it was also a non-standard size, which meant that in order to mount it on panel, instead of just doing prints, I would have to place an expensive custom panel order, that I wasn't yet prepared to do. I sat it on a standard panel that I'd painted the sides of, just to see how it looked and noticed that if centered, it had exactly a half inch border around it. Would it, could it possibly work, I wondered? Normally the print goes to the sides of the panel and then the excess is trimmed off. This would require some careful centering and a different type of adhesive than I had been using. But I gave it a shot … and it worked! And I loved it! The resin made the impromptu border look like black glass. Which just goes to show that being open to things being different than you planned is as important as planning. Plan first, then be willing to throw your plans out the window when something doesn't fit, because something better you can't yet envisage is lying in wait.
So my murky undersea image is now warm and earthy and makes me think of sweaters and woodsmoke; walks in the damp woods on a crisp late October day; broken snail shells amongst decaying leaves; the world curling in on itself to sleep and store its energy for new growth in Spring. Looking at it makes me want to grab a hot cocoa and bundle up by the fire – even though we're in the middle of a scorching August heatwave. Sometimes things work out when you just let them.