“Secure Your Chains”
©2018, Molly Larson Cook
18 x 24
Acrylic on canvas
“X-rays of famous paintings reveal that even master artists sometimes
made basic mid-course corrections (or deleted really dumb mistakes) by overpainting the still-wet canvas.”
–Bayles and Orland, Art & Fear
Several years ago, back in the days when I was a full-time writer instead of a full-time artist, I taught a course in how and why to revise one’s work.
This is a touchy subject among writers, especially the novices who believe that whatever lands first on the page is gold. (It’s not.)
As I work on the paintings, I know full well that whatever lands first on the canvas is not likely to be gold. It’s likely to be the foundation or underpainting for layer upon layer, an awkward start that will go through revision upon revision until it all comes together and I’m happy with it.
I have a favorite little pin I found in a junque/antique store back in my writing and editing days. It’s a “flowered cow.” I love this little pin – a cow with tiny horns and hooves, a sky-blue head and a restful scene painted on its side – tulips and green grass.
I love the flowered cow not only for its flowers but because cows are wonderful reminders of what it means to revise one’s work. A cow has to chew it’s food many times to accomplish its fundamental task. A writer has to revise and revise and revise again to do the same.
An artist has to paint and re-paint and re-paint again until the magic happens. It’s the rare writer or artist or flowered cow that can create something beautiful on the first try.
Instead of bemoaning our lack of talent, let us praise our determined persistence. Instead of giving up in the face of mistakes, let us be grateful for the lessons. My writing alter-ego, Miss Fidditch, has only two rules for writing: 1. Get the words down. 2. Fix them.
I’ve invited her to offer a few words for artists here: 1. Get the paint on. 2. Fix it.