Just as most of us have a hard time knowing if we really do(!) look fantastic in that new purple outfit from the bargain store, I have a hard time seeing my work as another person might see it.
I have a tendency to lose sight of what may or may not be good about a piece of my work and in a moment of (false) level-headedness will think it better to de-clutter or save money by throwing out, cutting up, re-purposing or, as is the case with many large stretched canvases, painting over completed work.
The painting here, titled Napoleon & Josephine is just one of those works. It no longer exists because I painted over it.
I know why I painted over Napoleon & Josephine. I felt the painting was lacking the freedom & dimension I had envisioned. It stood too cautiously between broad brushstroke expression and poorly executed, uptight, middle-of-the-road painting; the latter caused I believe by a disruptive, latent, confused desire for realism.
All good reasons at the time to destroy this work, though I see now that self-criticism is a harsh dictator. Because (I see this now, too) this work represents in granular detail, the point where I stood in the evolution of my development as a painter when I created the painting; the brushwork, theory, colour choices, canvas size. It represents (represented) more than just a painting, good or bad. It is (it was) a record of evolution. A record of growth, change, adaptability, learning-
And I won’t do it again. I won’t destroy another painting.
Because this is the big picture; an artist’s career (a person’s life) seen from far above: a collection of moments, none of them perfect, each a part of the experience of living, learning, growing- evolving.
I admit too, that I miss my painted friends, Napoleon & Josephine. With me so long on the studio wall, they’re gone. Gone for good because I was so determinedly focused on just the good (mostly the bad) and missed the most amazing of all things; the big picture.
Napoleon & Josephine / 48" x 60" / acrylic on canvas / janet bright