Sunday, March 6, 2016

Took Me Long Enough!

The remaining sliver of a blind contour drawing in hand, I went to my studio yesterday with the idea of using pastels to create an abstract painting whose line under-drawing would show through in captivating little snippets.

That did not go as imagined.

The pastels didn't do what I wanted. The lines didn't do what I wanted.

I got into fix-it mode.

Etched in some texture with a hair pick. Used a precision applicator to superimpose some line elements.

The mess multiplied.

I went from the original sweet flow of the contour drawing to a sour no-go.

no go

It would have been easy enough to toss the experiment in the trash and call it a day—many things learned, start something new. I'm only talking a 2x6" piece of watercolor paper here, and the contour drawing was long gone. Time to cut my losses and move on.

Here's the thing, though. A fresh piece of paper offers a new start, but so does No-Go.

What the heck, why not consider No-Go my new start?

That did not go as imagined either.

The bold ink lines I drew felt forced. The thinner stitch lines I drew looked self-conscious.

I covered the whole overwrought muddle with acrylic, then lifted some of the acrylic with a brayer to let lines show through.

Ended up going from the earlier sour no-go of the pastels to the gloomy God-only-knows of an acrylic veil.

bold show
stitches on tiptoe
away it all goes
God only knows

Again, it would've been easy enough to pitch the experiment—many things learned, start fresh. Seriously, we're talking a scrap of paper here. Plus, even a team of trained archaeological diggers would not have been able to get back to the original contour drawing.

But, I'd need a piece of paper no matter what I did next, so why not let God Only Knows be that piece of paper?

By this point, I'd finally released all attachment to my original vision.

Took me long enough!

I turned my paper sideways, got out pastels again, and turned the reins over to my intuition—ever patient in the wings, thank goodness.

And I returned to flow, to the exquisite feeling of flow I remember from creating the original contour drawing.

The same energy that is right now wordlessly pushing shoots out of the ground and sending sap rising in maple trees moved through me and gave me a soft sweet whisper of vernal let's-go!

My February blind contour drawing is now not only blind but also invisible! But I love knowing that from the generative seed of that drawing buried way down deep under layer upon layer, this little paper prayer grew.

Paper Prayer 34, Let's Go
2x6", ink, acrylic, and oil pastels on watercolor paper
close-up of textural elements created with a fingernail file
and a little round gizmo from Dave's workbench


  1. Amazing Dotty, from start to finish. I love how Spring is finally showing through. Goodbye February, bring on new life!

    1. Thanks, Joje. YES—spring is finally showing through! Glad you can see it here, too : )

  2. Hi Dotty,
    I really love this process. I experience the samen, getting over and over something, and then finally, after all the hope for something acceptable is almost gone, the lotus flowers from the mud.

    with love,

    1. Yes! Precisely! This little paper prayer took its long sweet time blooming, but it DID eventually bloom.

      Now, I am knee-deep in new mud! Just saying.

      Thanks for your comments.

  3. You are going to think I am bonkers, but for some reason this reminds me of the ceiling in the Sistine chapel. Blue sky, clouds... you're right, I'm nuts.

  4. Hey, Sheila, thanks—I’m happy to entertain the comparison!

    I continue to be fascinated by the gift we painters give to the senses and imaginations of those who see our work; I love every aspect along the continuum of the mystery of creation—the inspiration that sets the ball rolling, the yields that come from that inspiration, and then the responses that are as varied as the viewers.