My Blue Heaven

--Tess Farnham "My Blue Heaven," mixed media on canvas, 20x24

So in the past, I have admitted to being one of those artists who grapples with intense bouts of sadness, bouts that are at times so gripping and intense you can barely hold a brush in your hand, let alone steady the thing for detail or realism.  The curves turn linear and the lines wave and bend with trembling.  You erase and erase until the frustration just leads to tears and the tearing up of preliminary sketches and grids. 

At some point in this process you finally get so exasperated, you just grab the closest implement of application and let the strokes go where they will.

This piece actually began as a much darker work with lots of primary colors for contrast; it was a piece that I cherished mostly because its importance to a friend of mine, nevertheless, a piece that I had more or less made to suit his tastes instead of mine.

As it happens, I store blank canvases in the same corner of the basement where I store finished works.  And the other night as I was flipping through to find the size I wanted, my eyes fell upon that painting. ..and I started to think of how much I wanted to take out those awful strokes of ocher and red. . . 

So instead of starting fresh, I decided to go to work there. 

After I had taken this painting upstairs, I noticed that there was a tiny ding in the wood support where it had been dropped on the basement floor.  At first discouraged by this discovery, I quickly recovered when I realized I could patch it.

With lacy mesh from an old curtain panel, its mate lost in the fog somewhere now.  A slumping and ravaged mishap in a heap on the chair beside the easel like a castoff bridal veil. 

I cut the bandages haphazardly, applying them to the corners of the canvas as reinforcement. Afterwards, I applied some gel medium and paint to anchor them.

Next came coats of color and gel medium mixed with pearlescent powders to address the areas where the piece had fallen short of my vision of a completed work. Blues and maroons, mixed and unmixed with dabs of this and that and at times patched together with leaves shakily extracted from that cast off curtain.

A couple of hours later,  I was finished.  Happy and satiated that I’d lifted myself out of this sad spell, but also had done sufficient triage to resurrect a work that had gone to a corner of my basement to die.

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6 responses

  1. I love it, and I love the story behind it. Those intense bounds of sadness like to keep me company too sometimes, I just wish I could dispel those feelings in such a beautiful way as you 🙂

    • I used to be afraid to write about those things at first, but then it’s so comforting when you find kindreds. It’s nice to know you aren’t alone with this stuff. (Your well-crafted sense of humor always gave you away to me though. You have to know how it feels to cry a lot of tears to make people laugh. That’s just how it works.) Thanks for checkin this out. 🙂

    • Yeah. I find I need a break from language sometimes. Words can just cloud my head with confusion, the painting is such a release from that. Like meditation maybe. The words go away for awhile and I can only think in image, symbol and color. 🙂

  2. It’s funny because I recently created a post about this on my blog. Specifically, it was about frustrating “ugly babies” – paintings that came out badly and sit there staring at us, making us feel like failures. It was heartening to know how many people share that experience. I think I tended to get too emotional over it, feeling like I needed to do something about those wrecked canvases. But I realized it’s okay if a bad painting sits in the basement for a few years. Eventually I’ll get around to “fixing” it or painting over it! In the meantime, don’t let it slow you down. Just keep painting!

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