Monday, March 31, 2014

adaptability ~ Esther Watson

"adaptability" - Esther Watson
36"x36" acrylic on canvas

The reactions to this painting have always been fascinating. Among those who enjoy the piece, the conversation follows a script:  
"Oh, that's so [insert adjective here]!  I see ________."  
The blank is usually filled with one of a handful of options, sometimes two or three.
Up to a few years ago, I was (naively) convinced that "good art" was planned out to the nth degree.  The artist had a grand theme, sketched the subject, planned the location of every brush stroke, and determined the ultimate end before the "real work" had even begun. Too rigid to gel with my strengths, this framework was always daunting.  And then this piece...happened. 
The only thing I was sure of were the colors- and even those were flexible.  The paints were applied directly to and mixed on the canvas, no palate was used. The brush was less than pristine.  All I had as a guide was the shape of the initial brush strokes in a sea of blank canvas.  In short, the process was primitive. It was terrifying.  And organic. And freeing. 
I (again naively) thought the work was complete once the paint dried, but that notion has been proven wrong time and again.  Every time another person says "I see _____," creates a frisson of possibility.  They may see something new, creating an entirely new layer of ideas tied to the image, invisible, and yet just as powerful as what can be seen.  Each conversation can change the perception of my own work and will inevitably crawl into conversations with others down the line, coloring theirs as well.

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