Across from my normal sitting place in our dining room (which is really our living/kitchen/common room) are some paintings –Frippery, 36 x 40″ oil on canvas, Condon Library (far left), and Heppner Courthouse, both 12 x 16 inches, oil on board.
To the left is a window that often acts as a painting:
Far left, on a slight diagonal wall over the fireplace, is another painting, the Mascall Formation Overlook, 18 x 36″, oil on canvas.
What all of these have in common is that I look and live with them daily. And, for the most part, they are my own creation (out of modesty, I don’t claim to have created either the flowers nor the foliage outside the window).
Looking and living with your own creations leaves you few excuses for bad work. There they are, the paintings you did or the flowers you arranged or the foliage you planted, staring back at you, day after day. It’s a wonderful, merciless experience and grand for teaching one about one’s art.
The questions I ask myself, over time, are as follows: Why did I like this art when I first put it on the wall? What does it do to the room? What do I look at most often within it? Do I like this art a week later? A month later? Six months (if it lasts that long) later? Do I even “see” it after it hangs for a while or does it just disappear from consciousness? What will be done with it when I take it down — stored, destroyed, sold, revamped, revisited, reviled? Are there better works to be done, inspired by this one? Do I ever want to do anything like this again?
Naturally the piece immediately in front of my coffee-drinking face is the one that garners the most attention. It gets the most criticism. And sometimes gets most extensively redone. Or taken down and put into deep storage. Often I move the ones from the sides to the front, in order to better assess what they are like when they are “in my face.” But sometimes, even on as they hang to one side, I can suss out the necessary info.
For the last six or so months, I had a 5 x 9 foot textile piece hanging on the right wall: Goose Rock, 48 x 108″, painted cotton, backed and batted with cotton, machine stitched.
By the time I took Goose Rock down, I was seriously annoyed with it. Right now it’s stored, but shortly it will either be cut into three pieces, almost equal in size, and/or given the “needle” treatment — that is, much more heavily quilted. It may even go back to the studio and get painted on more, probably after I’ve done more stitching over the top. Or maybe I will cut it into 3 unequal pieces and then cut the worst-composed one into more pieces and do something with all three thereafter to make it stop annoying me!
There’s also a kind of monotony to the piece that I’m not sure what I can do about. The effect of such a large wall covering is like that of tapestry — but tapestry tends to be multiplicitous in its imagery — or sometimes, like abstract art and color field painting, large swatches of subtle color. This representational kind of work might simply not be right for the large wall hanging. Or it might be that the wall on which it hung was not right for the work.
As you can tell, I’m still thinking about what needs doing to the piece that no longer pleases my eye and my visceral reactions (ie my gut). Next I’ll probably move one of the right side paintings to the front, so I can give it an equal share of criticism.
What art do you have hanging around that you think of changing — or keeping in exactly the same place forever? Does anyone else use their favorite sitting room as a critique gallery? Do you frame and hang your photographs and art? Do you keep bins of not-quite-discarded materials from which you may someday rescue them? How do you critique your own work and what do you do with it once you’ve come to some kind of semi-conclusion?