After I’ve completed a painting or sketch it normally gets left up on a little picture shelf in my front room, alongside whatever creations my daughter has brought home from nursery that week. It will generally loiter around for a week or two, or until I’ve done something new, and it’s a great chance to just ‘live’ with it for a short period of time before it gets hidden away in cupboard somewhere. I really like this little process that’s developed because it’s like having an ever changing gallery, and I really like having the opportunity to reflect on my latest efforts – what’s worked, what’s weak, how would I do it differently if I was to do it again.
So. A friend that we haven’t seen for a while came round to dinner recently and, seeing a recent Edward Wesson inspired work on display, said how much they liked it and that they’d very much like to have it, even down to knowing exactly where in their flat they’d like to hang it.
Naturally I was both delighted and flattered – but I was also quite surprised at just how ungracious I was too! I’d lived with this painting for a few days at this point and, whilst there were some elements of it that I really liked, there were also a good few that I didn’t like so much. I was happy with it as a sketch, but I felt uncomfortable with the idea of it being hung on a wall.
My discomfort resulted in me offering to do another version of the painting that would give me the opportunity to improve on some of the areas that I thought were weak. Then at least I feel I’d be able to offer some degree of choice into the proceedings.
The funny thing I next experienced was that my entire mindset was now different. Gone was any carefree abandon of doing this with a sense of ‘what will be will be’. Now I was approaching the same image with an expectation that ‘what will be will be, but it had better be better’.
Once again, there were elements of this version that I liked more than the original, in particular the distant hill bottom right, and the smaller tree in the bottom right, however I didn’t think that the foreground was as successful, or the sense of depth and perspective towards the line of distant trees. I also felt ‘tight’ whilst I was painting it too and somehow feel that it shows.
So there was nothing for it then but to try again! This time, I didn’t do any under-drawing whatsoever – thinking that this may help a more relaxed approach. This did help, although having two previous versions to refer to made this easier. I definitely felt more relaxed when I painted this, and I like to think it shows too. Now what I’d ideally like to do is to take my favourite bits from each attempt and montage them together… but that’s simply never going to happen, let alone work. I’m also not going to go for a fourth attempt!
What I am now pleased about is that I can at least offer our friend a bit of choice, which I somehow find comforting. I think that the other valuable lesson that I’ve learnt through this, is that I need to do a painting and then just ‘Let it go’ (I’m sure you were wondering when the title of this post was going to come into play!)
I need to be able to do a painting and then let it go. If someone likes it, then great, and who am I to try to dissuade them! (Just for the record though, I’d love to know which of these three versions you might like the most?)
So – finally – in honour of my daughter without whom I’d probably still be blissfully ignorant of this song, and because I can’t help but derive some perverse pleasure from establishing the most tentative of links between my passion for painting and the global Disney phenomenon that is Frozen – here’s the video of ‘Let it go’, my new mantra.
Next time anyone expresses an opinion, positive or negative, I shall be doing my utmost to channel my inner Elsa, perhaps flouncing on the inside but remaining gracious and implacable on the surface!