08 Feb

If you’ve ever had a writing coach, most likely you’ve heard the phrase kill your babies. This directive, as you’ll remember, means to edit out all phrases, sentences, lines of dialogue, character descriptions and/or chapters – ouch! – that do not – cannot to any extent – support your premise. Regardless of how brilliantly you wove the syntax or how deeply the sentiment moves your heart, the misfit must go! 

The same is true in visual arts. Editing – while often heartbreaking – is required in the production of artwork that wants to be clearly expressive. 

Case in point – while laying down my first layer of paint for Old Blush in Roseville, I spread the paint too thin. I covered the entire substratum but not sufficiently enough to disguise the canvas texture. After the paint dried, I noticed multiple places where the paint had skipped over the surface, leaving raw canvas exposed in various shapes and sizes. One shape was of a small, endearing heart. 

Seeming to have a life of its own, the little heart felt special to me because the subject of the painting was special. The Roseville vase titled, Pinecone, is from my mother’s Roseville Pottery collection of 57 pieces. Old Blush, the antique rose, represents the rose bush that has been in my maternal family for over 100 years. 

Even though I loved how the paint colors had in their blending created space for a tiny heart that I really wanted to keep, the surface paint was far too thin to leave as the background. I had to repaint the surface – all of it, including over the heart. Disappointed, I had no choice. 

While editing stringent enough to rank as kill your babies was required in this case, I’ve decided to use a different, more positive phrase in the future when necessary. For me, revitalize your babies, meaning give new life and vigor to the dear ones, has a more sustaining feel. 

For Old Blush in Roseville, I can truly say – I love it. I love what the painting is now. I love the life that lies beneath the roses.

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