I’ve been working on a painting which I have carried in my mind for many moons.  It’s a view of the marsh at high-tide at Kiawah, S.C.  I’ve painted the marshes before, mostly in an abstracted landscape form; but this time, I wanted to try realism, to a point.

K - in progress

Kiawah - in process

I decided to use a 24″x48″ canvas because I thought the wide, horizontal space best conveyed the expanse of the marsh. The first thing I did, after I put the canvas on my easel, was to paint the entire surface with a watered down, very light orange.  That dried in about fifteen minutes and I proceeded to make some markings on the canvas to indicate the horizon line and the trees in the distance and the island shaped piece of land which is visible during a low tide, but is not, when the tide is high.

A few days later, I returned to my canvas, ready to begin using my palette knife for the first layer–my first mistake.  I later remembered “thick over thin.”  Well, I stumbled through the “first” painting, using  bright colors fitting a caribbean island, never before seen in Kiawah.

The painting was, in my eyes, abominable.  It wasn’t what I had envisioned at all.  Why? After all, I did choose the colors and placement of land, water and trees.  It was under my control, or so I believed.

I tried washing and scraping the canvas to get it so I might paint over it.  The challenge was to get rid of the thick  texture of paint caused by using the knife.  By the time I finished this, well, you can imagine the damage I did.  Off to the garbage, I thought.  Quick reaction to frustration and sense of helplessness.

How many times in my life have I walked (or run) away from persons, situations and experiences because I felt frustrated, confounded, and anxious — out-of-control?  Too many to count (but many good stories).  This time, I vowed to myself, I would work through all the mind-games and continue to paint my original vision.

Two weeks later, I finally turned back to my painting; only this time, I laid a large piece of cloth on the floor and proceeded to lay out my paints, brushes, knives, bowl of water, paper towels and my palette with many tubes of colors.  Now, I have bad knees and I knew kneeling would be painful; so, I found a gardener’s pad to use and began my chores from the floor.

Kiawah - in process

Kiawah - in process

This painting is still on the floor of my office/studio.  Today, my husband asked me how long my stuff would be on the ground.  I told him I had no idea.

My painting and my psyche have gone through several metamorphises.  I think I’m making progress; but I’m not used to reworking paintings for over a month.  I don’t know if this painting will work out or if it just can’t be fixed.  I feel the experience is a “test” of my patience and my adaptability.  In the end, it will be what it is: a painting which may or may not have an afterlife.

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