Friday, November 4, 2011


Juxtaposition, 24 x 36, mixed media
Elizabeth W. Seaver

I began this piece four years ago and never quite thought it was finished.  I've been looking at it ever since, every time I am in my basement where it hangs on the paneled walls.  

I like to do that.  Watch an unfinished painting.  It evokes a kind of patience that I bring to almost nothing else in my life.

Within the last couple of weeks, I took it down off of the wall and began renovations.  Here it is.  And I'm much happier with it.

It is on the wall of my studio now, for our First Friday opening.  And, I know, it will engender much comment, the upshot of which will be, "This is different for you."  It will be said with raised eyebrows, inviting me to speak on the subject.  Each time I hear those words, I have to take a deep breath and endeavor not to bite.

Why do I bristle?  I've given it lots of thought. I think it is because that is what I do every day in my studio--making sure that what I do is different.  Unlike anyone else's and as originally me as possible--me, the artist I work to become all the time.  Must I make everything look the same, even if it is my sameness?  It is my great joy to get to spend hours making stuff and rearranging my arsenal of skills and techniques in ways I've never seen before (I'm not arrogant enough to think that no one has actually ever done it before.)  That's my job, as I see it.

Now, do I really think that people are meaning to be anything but conversational when they say, "This is different for you?"  No, I really don't.  Despite being an artist myself, I do understand.  I am completely intimidated to begin a conversation with an artistic stranger.  My words stick in my throat, and I stutter....

"Have you always worked with these materials, or is this series different for you?"  ACK!  I've done it.  I've said the unthinkable!

So, I do know why it gets said.  And it is said by the best kind of people--those who are actually paying attention to my work.  Bless 'em.

So, I'm steeling myself to hear the phrase that shall not be named often tonight.  And I'll remind myself that it's nice that the sayer is paying attention and bite back a cranky retort.

(After all, how can I quibble....there is nary a bird in it!)



Pam Holnback said...

Wow! 4 years. I may go through some of my old pieces!

Saundra Lane Galloway said...

I HEAR YOU Elizabeth!...I'm glad you've found a way to understand why they say what they do. I am THE SAME WAY!...I am driven to look for ways to stretch...always experimenting with different materials or rearranging to bring a freshness within my own scope. Don't is our job to continue to stretch and grow...and, remember those artists who have walked before us...Picasso and his "periods" before cubism...:) We are ever evolving...that's human!

Carole Barkett said...

very lovely, the colors are wonderful

-Don said...

Hmmm... I'm not sure if anybody else noticed, but I think this might be a little different for you.

I had no intention of writing that until I read your post. I wasn't as caught up in the 'differentness' as I was in the cool shapes and colors and the sweet circle with the archway. I wish I could see it larger because I know that at 24x30 there's some great details that I'm missing out on at this size.

Kudos on the patience to return to something after 4 years. Personally, I know myself well enough to know that I would not be able to return to it. I would probably have already gessoed over it or consigned it to a box somewhere. I have one right now that's been sitting around since the beginning of the year and the only reason I haven't gessoed over it is because my wife won't let me. I think the only thing that can save the piece is if I do something completely different to it. :-)


M R Anand said...

the pleasing colours and shape are painted beautifully...4 years..hmmm...that's real patience..but it has paid off!

Serri Miller said...

Good stuff here! And I appreciate your thoughts on talking about your own work. I am trying to cultivate this "First Friday" skill, so it's good to know somebody else also has the occasional bristle in response to a well-meaning but ultimately ding-a-ling comment. :-)

Andrew Finnie said...

Heh, yes the audience is damned if they do and damned if they don't :) Best thing to do is have the attitude : if they like it well, they have good taste. And if they don't like it, well they have no taste" easy eh? :)

You are the artist, you are the boss. As long as they don't say "I don't know art... but I know what I like" if they say that I go "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH" and pull out their hair... I mean I pull out my hair :)

Oh I couldn't f ind the bird ;)

Yan Hong said...

I'm almost afraid to say it in case you bite! It LOOKS different. What, no birds? LOVE the colours.
I may now go through my old sewing projects, those that I'd started and then didn't like, or weren't sure what to do with.

Gwen Bell said...

So glad you brought this beauty out for us to enjoy! Gorgeous colors and I love the Cubist feel. It would make a great poster!