A couple weeks ago I began attending my regular critique group at Sutton Art again. I have been going on and off for about 13 years to Eileen Raucher Sutton's group, and I am still constantly amazed at how much I learn about painting (and life) from looking at and discussing art.
A fellow artist, Iris, brought a painting that she was working on and as soon as she put it up you could sense that everyone felt there was something wrong in it. Before anyone said anything she pulled out some brown painted paper and stuck it to the canvas in a place that she figured would "fix" the problem...and it did. We discussed why the change made the painting work and we were all quick to agree that she should just do that right on the painting.
But then Eileen told Iris to take the brown paper off the painting and let us look at what the problem really was. You see, there was an area under the paper that had yellow and purple touching each other and was causing a very exciting energy in the painting. The problem was this area was not the actual focus of the painting so it was distracting. However, it was also the most interesting part of the painting. We talked for about 10 minutes about how she could create another intense colour dynamic somewhere else and perhaps balance out the painting that way. We spent another 5 minutes playing with some other bits of paper and visualizing what it might look like that way.
Then, Eileen told Iris to put the original brown paper back on the painting, once again covering the yellow/purple dynamic. This time when she did it, we all were amazed at how the vibrant energy of the painting was instantly gone. Yes, her initial "solution" would solve the problem, but we could easily see now that it would also take away the most exciting part of the painting.
Now her painting looked fine, but it was very safe and quite uninteresting.
Life is so much like that painting. Exciting and sometimes disruptive elements do occasionally arise in our lives and are distracting, especially if a lot of the elements in our lives are safe, routine and appear to be working on the surface. These distractions aren't part of the "plan" but they are exciting, interesting and quite possibly are telling us something important about what we want from life.
The question comes down to how you solve your painting. I wonder if Iris will choose to challenge herself and try to find a way to balance that exciting colour dynamic with something as equally exciting or just paint the brown over the yellow/purple?
What would you do?