Recycling ruined canvasses is like working with your past.

In a previous post I have documented the process of ruining a simple landscape sketch. 

Since I don’t like wasting canvasses (or wasting paint), I keep occasionally trying to somehow “fix” or improve the situation of that horrible canvas. 

I figured out that one of the reasons I ruin sketches is that by adding more colour, the initially expressive dark-light contrast gets lost in translation. So I figured that I might add some white on top of things to gain contrast and structure.

The result is below. 

Well, it’s still not clear what the point of the painting is – I had a lengthy discussion with a friend lately about what decides whether a painting as has a “point” – but I do think it’s an improvement over the previous version.

(Yes, I have also turned the thing around and changed it from an attempted landscape painting to … whatever. I find the “whatever” more interesting to look at, although at this stage it’s definitely disharmonious and disconcerting, but at least it holds my attention for a few seconds, unlike the bland and rather boring landscape attempt.)

Ya. So in the spirit of my partner’s philosophy, rather than complaining that it’s still a rather disturbing painting, I could be pleased that at least now I find it weird enough to actually look at it for a while. 

This whole process of sketching, ruining and then trying to rehabilitate paintings makes me think of life. 

Or perhaps of the evolution of neural networks and implicit memories throughout the lifespan.

It’s a rich metaphor – the process of how to save a ruined canvas by changing small things intelligently … I could just paint the whole thing white and start over obviously, but I’m trying to evolve the painting from where it is now (ouch) to something that yes, I would enjoy looking at. 

That does feel a bit like life.

Working with the past. Thinking it’s best to paint it over white, but that doesn’t really work in life. 

Rather, you add tweaks, here and there, more or less intelligently. Sometimes a small tweak can change the whole shape you see in the painting. Sometimes you add a lot of pointless lines and it still doesn’t make any sense. 

Sometimes you’re lucky and the sheer complexity and contradiction of it makes it interesting to look at and capture some spirit, even though you don’t see the point or necessarily beauty. 

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