“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
There are times when, with sensitivity, I instruct my students, “Always stop before you think you are finished.” Sometimes we can overwork a painting, and in search of precision, we lose the spontaneity and freshness. It becomes overworked and heavy.
There are other times when I nudge my students to stick with the work a bit longer. I remind them, “The difference in an amateur and a professional, is that the professional takes it a few steps more and puts in a few more hours…’
This painting held its own with the background left stark white. The colors sing against the white background. Shadows could be added, and it would fool the eye, as it was already fooling mine! My friend Xavier often walks into the studio and says, “I can never tell what’s painted and what’s real!” and when this painting was flat on the magic-carpet floor, I often forgot that it was not part of the floor!
When a painting is 35 inches by 48, it’s taking a few more weeks to finish! After several moments of self doubt, I ‘soiled’ the white background with a medium value wash of dark blues and purples and greens. I knew there was no option to return to the original white background!!! I continued adding layers of paint…
Although another ten hours’ worth of ‘backup flowers’ and shadows would have finished the ‘white’ version, I wanted to capture the true essence of the nighttime gardens of the cloud forest. The white datura open at dusk and release their intoxicating fragrance through the night. After sunrise, the flowers are spent. When in Mindo, I worked at night and used fresh flowers from my friends’ gardens.
This acrylic imaginary garden is slowly taking form via watery applications of background colors. Throughout the day and night, I take timeouts for art, add washes then allow the paint to dry.
After a morning of inspecting the beach at nearby El Matal, I will now return home and finish tending the nighttime gardens of a make believe cloud forest!
(Sorry, the final image is muddy!)
You can surely spot the areas awaiting more washes! Do you think this painting will be a keeper? Should I have stopped with the white background? Will you take a timeout for art this weekend?!