“The whole must be greater than the sum of the parts” -Herman Keys
What do you do when you’re attached to a painting in progress, but know it’s got problems? Like having a bad friend or troubled child, you might be tempted to overlook the flaws, perhaps even feel a greater affection because of them. But that doesn’t last forever. Sooner or later, something has to change.
The painting in question started off well enough. Taken from a small sketch, inspiration came in the form of a white cottage, dwarfed by larger structures. Power lines stretched overhead. A simple scene. Quiet and vulnerable.
In the move from paper to canvas, complications arose. The format changed and another building needed to fill the space. Ocean City, a small beach town, began morphing into Atlantic City, complete with casinos sprouting up in the background. Power lines swelled.
I set the piece aside again and again, unable to move it forward. The composition felt awkward, too symmetrical and stiff. An ominous ferris wheel showed up dead center, only making matters worse. The Taj Mahal, meant to be threatening, looked like a domino. Unseasonal thunderstorms lurked on the horizon.
When something isn’t right, fix it. Take drastic measures if necessary. Never settle.
Postscript: My father was a Sunday painter; it was one of his many hobbies. After his untimely death at the age of forty two, our family treasured the handful of paintings left to us. His rendition of Pope Pius hung in the living room for years, a solemn profile in red and white, head bowed, hands folded in prayer. We marveled at the quarter inch where a correction had been made in the position of the Pope’s ear.
Check this out Dad. You’d be proud of me.