Monday, October 3, 2011

What if....?

Reworked in burnt sienna washes. Note underlying brushwork still visible.

"September's Song" oil on 8x10 inch canvas... using plaette knife only!

"What if"... is one of those quandaries which visits and confronts each of us at many times... often even daily in our painting lives... and along our journey. Those words usually predicate an immediate need for a decision for change. Often the change is small and the term is used casually in personal thought... or perhaps in conversation with another to explore options to create a desired direction of change. Usually, if used in conversation with another... the term could signal a rather loose "invitation" to participate in the development of a change... a gentle and nonthreatening way to gather and assess options or possible solutions to a pesky problem.

If the term is used as personal response to an inward questioning... it might be simply a verbal rehearsal to used to posit "possibilities"... before deciding upon a definite course of action to solve the problem at hand. In both of these cases... the term reflects a positive and normal strategies for problem solving in our daily lives. That same condition applies to creative thinking and action(s) as well and usually leads to a more positive outcome than merely diving into the problem ... without a plan of attack... or weighing of possible outcomes.

There is another form of "what if" as well... one that is not productive. In fact... if used to reflect upon actions NOT TAKEN which lie clearly in the past... and only reflect a sense of regret over a failure to act... the term is highly negative... and destructive.

The Universe, meaning Life... offers each of us an unlimited number of choices and opportunities over our journeys. The choice... and right to either act... or not lies squarely on our shoulders alone. We surely must take into account... a myriad of conditions in order to make these decisions... and we must also weigh in how our decision impacts the lives of our friends and loved ones. Choices can also be influenced by financial and personal health and safety issues as well.

All of this said... we are each given one life to lead... with no absolute guarantee of another awaiting us beyond this one. It behooves each of us then... to maximize our given opportunities by facing each bravely as we encounter them and to regularly exercise complete belief and trust in our Selves to make these decisions. We all are guilty of "coasting"... ceding over responsibility... even making irrational excuses for avoiding what we fear most - the Future. It is much easier to bask in the comfort of the known... "The Now"... or worse still... to rest upon the laurels or fear of failure based upon "The Past"... neither of which is fully relevant to future outcomes in our lives.

It is never too late to begin any journey in life.... nor to undertake any personal change in the course we have been following. Rather than wallowing in self-pity.... or hopelessness due to constraints imposed by others... or your own fear of flying, why not choose to use Today... and Tomorrow to plan and execute your very own Redemption.... and Transfiguration. It is never too late to fulfill your own personal bucket list.... one item at a time. It only requires that internal reflection... inwardly... a truthful "conversation" with your Self... adding in your own..."What if?".... and get down to work... just trying to accomplish that first step in the process!

The "loser"painting in my post is an artsy way to demonstrate my point. The first canvas' subject... not able to be seen now ...was a "scrubber"... completed way back in September 2001. It laid about until I know longer could bear to look at the failure in it. So I sanded and again reissued this small 8x10 canvas. As I looked at the "new" white emptiness.... I could still discern some of the underlying brushstrokes through the shadows they created. I began to rotate the canvas... constantly looking... searching to find... or "See" something concealed in its emptiness.

Finally... I said to myself..."What if you introduced and played with some thinned burnt sienna?"... which I did. Before long, I found a landscape of sorts emerging... one that bore no resemblance to the original image at all. I left it overnight and returned to it fresh the next day.

"What if I used a palette knife... instead of a brush?" That would certainly help bury many of the "too obvious and unwanted lines." And so it proceeded... until "The Now" version. The only remnant of the Past is its title: "September's Song". Both were completed in the month of September... and keeping this shard from its less illustrious Past... seemed a fitting reminder.

Following the process.... these are the "What ifs" that ran through my mind.What if I had just junked the canvas?".... What if I had "Shermanized" it in the usual fashion? The "What if "... has now become the "What is"... and I am most pleased with the result... not just the image... but more the process of making an earlier failure work into something positive... with "possibility"!

Take courage! Take risks! Take ownership for your own Destiny.... and live your Life... each day... as a Blessing!

Much Peace... and Good Painting... and Safe Risking... to ALL!


  1. I love what ifs! They are exciting, dynamic and filled with potential.... I biggen'd your painting, what beautiful marks and gorgeous thick buttery paint you have used. Your painting expresses a sense of adventure and makes me want to peer around the corner. What a great 'what if?'

    Happy painting.

  2. Hi there Lisa!... Thanks for visiting... and for lending your support of the wonder-filled potential of... the "What ifs"!

    Glad too... that you "biggened" the painting to reaveal its rich texture and the energy given it by the palette knife application of paint! It was like icing a cake - so freeing!

    "What if"... you could actually peer around the corner? I wonder what you might see? Isn't that what painting should be all about Lisa?....Creating wonder!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post. Someone once said that dwelling on the past is a waste of time, worrying about things that we can't do anything about.

    Your painting is a good demonstration of how to 'paint over the past' and get on with something exciting and new.

    All the best,

  4. Hi Keith!...Always good to have you drop by!

    Each and every time you freely offer positive support and sharing of your own thoughts which combine to lift my spirits!

    "Painting over the past" - What a succinct... pointed and very insightful description of the act of painting itself (for "Me" at least)!But that's another story... for another day... and post!

    I will keep that phrase in mind for future thought and consideration. Thanks for sending it along!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Wow. Your "what if" for recovering that painting is amazing. As soon as I saw it I said outloud WOW. And great thoughts concerning how to live, how to carry on, and how to paint! Thanks, Bruce.

  6. Hi here Karen!... Good to hear your exhuberant voice! Hope that it means that you're..."on the mend" nicely!

    We sure have missed your presence,... and portraitures in progress. Hope that you are able to swing into full gear again SOON!

    The "recycle" project was fun... almost giddy in nature... if you know what I mean. Things "happen"... for which there are no answers... they just... happen! Fun!

    Speedy recovery! Look forward to finding you... "back in the saddle again"... as Gene Autry put it! HAHA!! Dates me for sure!

    Warmest regards,