Last week the largest painting in my shop, "Live, Travel, Adventure, Bless", found a new home... as always happens when an original painting sells, I was both happy and a little sad to pack it up. I'm maybe overly emotional about my artwork - making it, selling it, seeing it copied - but there are good reasons why.
"Live, Travel, Adventure, Bless" was the first painting I ever started with the end product already crystal clear in my head from the moment I unwrapped the 24"x48" canvas, knowing exactly what layers to put down in what order and how the whole painting would flow from early on. This was when I was still working full time as a hospital research coordinator, when I would spend my workdays thinking about it, sketching out lettering ideas while on the phone with patients, and being so excited to get home at 7pm and work on it even for just a few hours. (If you guessed that this was around the time I started realizing that painting couldn't remain a part time thing always in the back of my mind while I did other things... you are right.)
It took about three or four weeks of nonstop work before I thought the painting was finished and paid to have it scanned, but something didn't feel right... something felt very eh. So I just kept her on the wall and stared frustrated for three months until it clicked and I completely recreated the bottom half and loved it. With this painting I realized how important it was to listen to intuition when working... if it looks wrong or feels wrong even a little bit, it probably is. We can have what we want, on canvas and in life, so there's no reason to settle for eh. There's always more paint to layer, another color to be mixed, another direction to go... whenever there's an eh in a painting it just means a wow is hiding, waiting to be revealed by trying something new.
I get connected to paintings in a way I'm not really attached to many other physical objects in life, perhaps just my well-travelled car and camera (and I'm guessing all for similar reasons.) Every finished painting represents so much experience and growth. Some experiences that occurred to inspire the painting (in this case, travelling alone with nobody to answer to but myself) and some that occurred during the process of painting it (I was feeling lonely after college, isolated by friends, trapped by my job, torn between choices of security or freedom, but so blessed and intrigued by the excitement of finding my artistic flow.) Finishing "Live, Travel, Adventure, Bless" was a huge step for me as a painter and as a 24 year-old girl trying to balance post-college challenges and fears... trying to do things "right" but also right for me, and to not have to be sorry. Sometimes the process of painting felt like one of the few things I could be sure of.
So I'm convinced an original painting is more than just color and paper and coffee splatters and fabric on canvas and wood. The good ones always seem to have souls of their own: the effort that went into them, the experiences that inspired them, the thoughts and emotions present while making them, all layered with materials that years or even decades ago had their own stories. The time it spent on the wall or in storage waiting to convince someone of its perfection for them. That's the sad part of letting go, and the reason original art is priced the way it is... it's a one-of-a-kind object, but also a unique entity with an unreplicable energy, it's own story. But on the other hand, it feels good to send a painting on its way to fulfill the rest of its story in the hands of the buyer; in this case, there was no question that it was headed to a good home that had been waiting for it a long time!
I packed it up in about a hundred layers of bubble wrap and put it in a box taller than me, putting it into the hands of my (hopefully) capable shippers and feeling like it was a chapter closed in my studio.
But luckily... there are always more chapters to write, yes? :)