Q: Does your work look different to you on days when you are sad, happy, etc.?

Recent work

Recent work

A: I’m more critical on days when I am sad so that the faults, imperfections, and things I wish I had done better stand out.  Fortunately, all of my work is framed behind plexiglas so I can’t easily go back in to touch up newly-perceived faults.  It reminds me of the expression, “Always strive to improve, whenever possible.  It is ALWAYS possible!”  However, I’ve learned that re-working a painting is a bad idea.  You are no longer deeply involved in making it and the zeitgeist has changed.  The things you were concerned with are gone: some are forgotten, others are less urgent.  For most artists the work is autobiography.  Everything is personal.  When I look at a completed pastel painting, I usually remember exactly what was happening in my life as I worked on it.  Each piece is a snapshot – maybe even a time capsule, if anyone could decode it – that reflects and records a particular moment.  When I finally pronounce a piece finished and sign it, that’s it, THE END.  It’s as good as I can make it at that point in time.  I’ve incorporated everything I was thinking about, what I was reading, how I was feeling, what I valued, art exhibitions I visited, programs  that I heard on the radio or watched on television, music that I listened to, what was going on in New york, in the country, in the world, and so on.   It is still  a mystery how this heady mix finds its way into the work.  During the time that I spend on it, each particular painting teaches me everything it has to teach.  A painting requires months of looking, reacting, correcting, searching, thinking, re-thinking, revising.  Each choice is made for a reason and as an aggregate these decisions dictate what the final piece looks like.  On days when I’m sad I tend to forget that.   On happier days I remember that the framed pastel paintings that you see have an inevitability to them.  If all art is the result of one’s having gone through an experience to the end, as I believe it is, then the paintings could not, and should not, look any differently.

Comments are welcome.

About barbararachkoscoloreddust

New York Artist Barbara Rachko www.barbararachko.com shares her perspective on pastel painting, photography, and the creative inspiration she finds in ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, mythology, and travel to remote places, like her new favorite destinations, Bali and Sri Lanka.

Posted on November 17, 2012, in An Artist's Life, Art in general, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Inspiration, Painting in General, Quotes, Studio, Working methods and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This was a very interesting and well articulated commentary! What you say is so true, but in my case, I think I have a hard time drawing a curtain closed on any experience and feeling. They all run into each other and never stop! But–absolutely!–it is not a good idea to go back and fiddle with a work you felt was finished. Just start a new one. However, there are some famous artists who were notorious for trying to alter paintings later on, even ones hanging in museums. Bonnard is one who comes to mind…

    • Donna, much of my thinking on this is driven by practicality. To re-work a piece I have to bring it to my framer in Virginia (I don’t trust anyone local with a pastel painting) so he can take apart the frame. This costs time and money (usually a few hundred dollars). I can either bring pastels with me to Virginia (anticipating exactly which colors I’ll need, not so easy), or I can bring the newly unframed piece all the way back to NYC. Then back to VA again when I’m done! It’s much smarter to just start another painting.

%d bloggers like this: