Monday, January 7, 2008

The Existential Dilemma of Exchanging

Our annual party is coming up - and we are celebrating the 40th birthday of the watercolor organization. One of the fun things in the party is the painting exchange: members who wish to participate bring a matted painting (original, not a print), and get someone else's painting in return.

No, you don't get to choose... it's a lottery thing. Which means you may end up with an incredible painting, and you may end up with, well, not. The same goes for your own painting: whoever gets it may be totally thrilled with it, hang it in their house and treasure if forever and ever, or they may just shove it someplace or even toss it in the garbage on the way home.

So how do you select a painting to give? Do you choose your best work? Do you choose your worst? It needs to be an artwork that you feel comfortable to have your name associated with it, like enough to sign your name on and not worry about it being perceived as hideous. On the other hand, it shouldn't be a painting that you absolutely love and want to put in a show.

Tricky. Very tricky.

WebbieM suggested that I take a painting I really like, and make another version of it.

This idea is based on the known fact that you can never ever reproduce a successful painting; so this way you are bound to get something close enough that you don't mind giving away.

Good advice, Eh?

Only problem: being the ultra-spontaneous painter that I am, I would go nuts if I tried to copy one of my paintings. Instead, I decided to take a painting that is just OK, and upgrade it so it's good enough to be exchangeable.

Took the first version of the
Sikh man, and worked on it for an hour or so.

It turned out much better. In fact, it turned out so much better than it became too good to give away... I think I am still too attached to this image, so the mere idea of someone getting it and not appreciating it - - - no way!

Back to square one.

I browsed through the pile of past unfinished paintings I have, and bumped into the ones I did in Don Andrews' workshop, where the infamous sarong saga took place. I did several paintings in that workshop, none of them got to be finished nor turned out successful, so I decided it's time to take one of them and improve it. I chose the one of FergieJ who modeled for us when the paid model stormed out of the workshop.

The original was a nude painting, but since we're talkin' painting exchange, I figured I might as well dress her up a bit, as some people have an issue with nudes. (Yes, even some artists. Go figure).

Worked on it quite a bit, touched and changed, accentuated and blurred, and got lost in the process. It was great fun!

As for the result - I'm thrilled with the fact I've actually managed to keep the colors vibrant and not tone them down completely (as I tend to do); I like the composition much better than the original one; I love the texture - - - Uh Oh, do I like it too much to give away, again?

Y'know, I'm putting an end to this impossible quest of finding a good-enough-yet-not-too-good painting.

I hope that whoever gets to have it will like it. I do.


TexieD said...

I hope you get a painting with lines. :-)

Nava said...

TexieD, I'm assuming you mean straight lines, right? ;-)

Mike said...

Hmmmm. Now you have me thinking.

Here are my thoughts. If you paint one and not another, the one becomes precious. If you paint a lot of paintings, the last one is precious and the previous paintings fade in value. If you paint daily, then tomorrow's painting will, hopefully, be better than today's precious one.

If one is giving, one must give of them self, not the trash or discards.

Next year, after having given away a nice painting, the recipient will NEVER forget such a treasure . . . .but the giver, being a painter always improving, will realize that one painting didn't matter more than being just a step toward the giver's quest for better.

Just my thoughts.

Nava said...

... and that is why I am parting with this one, Mike, although I like it a lot (no, it is not a discard nor trash). As for "the recipient will NEVER forget such a treasure" - well, in a perfect world, that would have been true. However, what is precious to one might be fireplace material for another.

See ya Saturday - I take it you're bringing your best recent painting to the exchange? ;-)

RHCarpenter said...

Well, I like all of these paintings, Nava, and loved reading about the model with the attitude! ha-ha I do hope she went into some other line of work that more suited her - perhaps she is a dominatrix in an S & M bar??! ha-ha