In 2014 I painted the top picture to honor my upcoming 35th wedding anniversary. It spoke to me of the seasons of a long term marriage - "winter comes, spring follows..." I knew the painting wasn't complete, so I didn't varnish it. It's been hanging in my dining room waiting until I felt compelled to work on it more.
The call came last month when someone saw it and mentioned that it seemed more "static" than my current work. I realized that reflected the state of my marriage at that time. It was time to let the painting grow and evolve just as my marriage has during the past year.These photos show the progression of the painting. The third version with the red faced me and glasses was the first "finished" version. It spoke to me about how a marriage is made up of much more than two people. I liked it, but there was something bothering me about it. The upper left quadrant didn't feel correct, so I changed the nose and chin and the painting completely lost its power. I felt like I had ruined the whole thing. Crap.
I told my husband (see "Helpful Husband label in painting.." how I was worried I had really messed it up. He said, " You'll get it back."
Once I realized that it didn't matter if the final version didn't look like the earlier one, I felt free to keep playing with it. I kept reworking that quadrant, changing colors and finally decided to take out the extraneous beings that weren't being helpful. Looking at the progression now, it's crazy how much I see that the process reflected the actual process of a marriage changing over time. When I got to the last version in the series, I was struck with the message of the painting: It was telling me that marriage, just like this painting, is an experiment.
Really, after painting this, I realize that all of life is an experiment. You have an idea. You try something and see what happens. Then you try something else, and see what happens. As long as you don't get stuck on the outcome being what you think it ought to be, some nice things can happen.
Below is the latest version. It's not the final version yet. I don't know if there will be a final version. I think I'm just going to let it keep changing and evolving, just as good marriage does.
Painting in Portland, Oregon, and writing about it here...