February 16, 2022

Not Everything Needs to be Fixed

I’d been working on this painting for months.

It was my first real acrylic pour. There were two pour layers, because the first layer wasn’t good enough. I had finally decided this painting was complete, but then… resin.

I’ve been excited to experiment with resin, and this was (almost) the perfect test piece. Nervous about the potential to ruin things, I thought about it for months. Last weekend I took the plunge.

The application went fine. I covered it, left it to cure, then came back to check on it the next day. The resin had overflowed the natural border and pooled where it wasn’t supposed to be. It was completely unexpected, even shocking, but because it was so cold it hadn’t firmed up yet.

I immediately grabbed a scraper and started removing the resin from the unwanted area. I didn’t even stop to think about it – I knew time was of the essence, and it wasn’t what I wanted, or where I wanted it.

Fortunately, the rest of it cured perfectly.

The finish and edges could have been better, but I was happy with the main area… except for where it had overflowed, and the remnants of what I’d removed.

For the last couple days I’ve been reworking the damaged area, and planning how to hide the mistake.

Today I took my Dremel to it, then did what I normally do; sit and stare for an extremely long time. I sketched a few thoughts. I considered adding color or texture. Covering it up or highlighting the area. Then I considered the symbolism of these choices and realized…

The overflowed resin was exactly what I wanted.

This piece is meant to represent hope. To signify light, beauty, hidden behind a wall, covered by the darkness. But always present, part of the same reality, even if unseen. And that overflowed resin perfectly illustrated an overflow of light and presence into the darkness I’d so carefully painted. I couldn’t have created better symbolism myself, because it was unplanned. Unexpected.

And I removed it. So quickly. I didn’t stop to stare, or ponder, or question what it could mean, might mean, or how I might harness this surprise event. It was right in front of me, and I missed it.

What I’m left with is something that’s clearly been tampered with. It’s rough around the edges. It’s beat up (literally… with a Dremel). It needs help. New layers, new inspiration, a fresh start. It will get that; they always do. Some of the mistakes turn into my favorite features, but you have to keep pushing through, and hear what the painting is trying to tell you.

I think this is telling a story of wounding. Or covering. Light will still be breaking through, and in a stronger way than before. The lines will be less clean. The concept will be a bit messier. But in our reality, that’s actually more realistic.

I think what saddens me about the fact that I missed the opportunity was because this light represents G-d. Spirit. Movement. It moved in the painting representing itself, yet I missed it.

I wonder how often that happens. We have an idea of what we want or how we’ll get it. The perfect thing has been carefully calculated, and we’re determined to arrive. When things look different, we’re disappointed, but maybe we’re missing something bigger.

Life is an unending quest for presence. Slowing down enough to look up. To look down and see what we already have, how far we’ve already come. I’ve slowed down enough to look at what needs to happen to “fix” this painting, but only after realizing it didn’t need fixed at all.

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