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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Recycle your artwork

While I was searching for the mixed-media painting I mentioned yesterday, I ran across some old photos of earlier watercolors. Many of the originals are stashed under the bed accumulating dustballs, but others I clearly remember destroying. The ones I kept show my slow, steady progress through my first few years of classes and workshops, but the ones I tore up represented sudden daring shifts of technique or design that weren't typical of my usual work at that time. Why did I rip them up? At the time I did them, I was so excited and pleased with this new direction that I couldn't wait to show them. The reaction was devastating--"What on earth is that?" "Oh, don't change what you're doing now." "Whatever were you thinking?" I felt so unsure of myself then that I immediately destroyed the new works and stayed within my comfort zone for years. When I looked at the photos of the paintings I realized that I should have had more confidence in my experiments and gone further with them. I should have worked with those paintings until I learned all they had to teach me. I should have ignored my critics and listened to my inner voice, which urged me to move forward. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by sticking with those paintings. I may not have resurrected them, but I could have learned from them, and when my tutorial was finished, they might have made good papers for the collage box. The most important lesson I learned--many years later-- was that I needed to trust myself more and listen to that little voice inside.

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