“Map of the Elusive Waterway”
11″ x 14″ acrylic
Over the past year, I’ve been working my way up from small collages to larger canvas pieces and then up to even larger canvas pieces. I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.
The larger canvases gave me freedom to push some boundaries and experiment with new techniques – loosen my stays, so to speak, and get a little crazy. And I did all that. Some of my favorite pieces came out of that larger work, and I still have blank canvases in bigger sizes waiting patiently for me against the wall.
But a friend and I are considering a pop-up gallery in my neighborhood during the summer. The summer starts in May where I live and the tourists start filling the sidewalks and streets, so it’s time to get ready.
I’ve been doing a little research and visiting a local year-round art fair, keeping my eyes open to learn what sells and what doesn’t. A pop-up gallery, like a weekend fair, appeals more to folks who are passing by than to collectors (although you never know).
For this venture, I need to scale down. I’ll show a few of the large canvases (in case one of those collectors happens by), but the bulk of sales will likely come from smaller pieces that can sell for less and be easily carried away.
At first, I was loath to give up those bigger canvases, felt as if I were taking a step backward to go smaller. I wanted to keep working with color but I had to make adjustments in the way I worked and the tools I used.
At the same time, I began working on poems for a chapbook. Poetry is, of course, all about compression. When I teach it, I advise students to bring in drafts and then tell them to cut the draft by a third. Their “oh no!” looks are pitiful. Thirty lines down to twenty. Fifteen lines down to ten. It’s the compression that makes a good poem what it is – tight, concise, solid.
And so it was with the paintings. The smaller canvases gave me a great exercise in compression. How could I say with the paint, with the colors, what I wanted to say in “fewer words”?
As the poems and the smaller paintings proceeded, side by side, I felt the joy of discovery, of finding not the almost right word, but the exactly right word. Not the almost right splash of color, but the exactly right splash of color.
Life is full of lessons. Some of them are worth the learning.