Saturday, July 31, 2010

When a Rejection is Good News

For those of you who consistently read my blog, you know that for the past few months I've found little time to paint. Between trips to Italy, raft trips and spending time with family, I have not created a new painting for a very long time. And when I'm not painting regularly, I can't just walk out to the studio and create something I'm happy with without some warming up.

Given those factors, I felt very pressured to hit the studio this week and do the impossible--create a new painting to enter in the Watercolor Society of Oregon competition. (The entry deadline is tomorrow, August 1.) I really wanted to enter something in my own local society's competition.

I started one painting, a pattern painting, that was based on a decent concept, but a poor rendering. I had a plan, albeit a loose one, and the painting was showing more of the "loose" than the "plan." When I saw that painting was going poorly, I decided to try another piece, so after going through my photos of my recent trip to Italy, I picked out a shot of two older Italian women sitting on a stone bench in Pienza.

It may surprise some readers to hear that it is easier for me to paint something, even people, in a more realistic style than it is to paint something out of my head. So I started this vignette of the two women engaged in a conversation. To begin with, I was just creating a stony textured background.

So on Wednesday morning I went out to my studio to reflect upon my two unlikely prospects as entries into a competition.

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A: A painting I didn't know where to go with next, or...

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B: A background with no figures.

Then I started hanging out at the mailbox, waiting for the mail. I knew that the letters of acceptance/rejection would be coming soon from Watercolor West. If my painting "Rogue Heron" was rejected, I would have something I would feel comfortable submitting to the WSO. Alas, the mail came and there was no letter. That forced my hand. I had to try to make one of the above work.

I started with the face of the Queen Bee, the storyteller and focal point of the piece.

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Then I began filling out the flesh of my two figures.

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And finally I got around to the fun part and the part that felt the most genuinely mine, the patterns and clothing choices.

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At the end of Wednesday, I had a painting that was mostly done, but not fabulous. The figures still are a bit "cut out" looking, the background is monotonous, and the queen bee's right hand should go in front of the bag, not look cut off as it does now. Oh, and quite miraculously (or poorly painted) the queen bee's weight appears to be pressing down the rock she is sitting on.

I look at this piece and see that it has potential, but needs some work. And I'm not sure I will immediately know how to fix it's problems. But a greater issue for me in entering this in a competition is that it does not represent the body of work I am currently building on. I don't think it's a bad thing to paint in a variety of ways, but, personally, I want to develop a certain recognition of a "Margaret Godfrey painting."

So given all of the above information, you might agree with me that when my letter of rejection came on Thursday, it was good news. I could enter "Rogue Heron" into the WSO competition--a painting I consider good work, a painting that represents my style, and a painting I have confidence in.

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Rogue Heron 22 x 29


Linda Rothchild Ollis said...

Don't you just love those deadlines. Looks like they bring out the best in you.
I know not everyone agrees, but why not celebrate the completion and the entry as part of the process? That feeling of limitless possibilities when no one has leveled an opinion and you know you gave it your best shot?
The rest just boils down to one person or a juries opinion. Sometimes that opinion is based on a quota of abstract or realistic pieces needed to round out the show. Please! Why hang your happy moments on stuff like that. With all that said...may the painting force be with you for whatever you wish for this painting.

Anonymous said...

Your ability to draw is amazing me. You are getting more detailed, I think, in your faces. I loved the "queen bee". I think that will turn into something you really love. You have come up in a couple of conversations recently. At my annual tea party for WA buddies, the new people enjoyed my floor. And someone saw one of your paintings at the volcano and said one had recently sold there. Sounds like you've just had a wonderful summer.

Love your work, keep painting. God gave you a fabulous talent. aloha, Petie