Layers in painting can be a good thing. They can add warmth, or coolness. They can add depth. Under-layers can shine through, either explicitly or more subtly, bringing texture, sometimes visual or even tactile. Many artists will automatically paint a colourful under-layer in order to get rid of the white of the canvas. At times this will even be done in opposite colours to those of the planned piece in order to create vibrancy and interest.
Sometimes layers aren’t appropriate, though, or even possible. One example of this is when working with transparent media. Overlapping coats of ink simply become darker and, while this may be a desired effect in its own right, actually changing a colour isn’t very easy. Neither is blotting out a change of mind.
So, I applied a swipe of colour on a painting. It was a calculated risk – I was trying to match another such patch elsewhere – but, this time, it was a mistake. All I can see now is the addition looking like a clumsy token gesture in the top-ish, left-hand-ish side.
Oh, for an undo button. It is such a presence in our computer-centric lives now. And what a wonderful thing it is. Try something out … no? … simply undo. Delete a paragraph in error? …. undo again. Early computers and associated programs didn’t have the undo option. One had to be careful but now, cavalier as you like, we can always retreat.
But we can’t undo an application of ink. Neither can we undo our words, or our instant facial reaction to something, or the fact that we were neglectful at a particular time. We can try to mitigate, or recover, or redress but there is no going back to before. Thus, we need to tread carefully, measure our responses, think about the effects of the things that we do and don’t do. Not always easy, of course. A bit of an ideal to aspire to, I suppose.
I’m not sure what I will do with the painting. The sadness is that it was good as it was. Taking it that step further may have made it irretrievable. We’ll see. Not time to despair yet. I will, however, be mindful of my interactions with the other elements in my life to ensure that a parallel event doesn’t occur.