Sunday, November 7, 2010

Joy 42/82: Facing the Blank Canvas

It's so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.  -- Paul Cezanne
That's how I felt this weekend when I began the mosaics retreat in a rustic setting overlooking the foggy Pacific.  Groaning tables of tiles, glass, shards of china, rocks, pebbles and various other materials called to us while the blank canvas loomed.  I arrived with a half-baked concept using a sun-face and a bright piece of china with grapes and leaves ... both oversized for the 12"x19" canvas ... and it got worse by the minute.  While my fellow mosaic makers were gathering materials, sketching and diving into their projects, I was sinking into the dark place of judgment.  The more I futzed with it, the worse it got.  The women around me seemed to be in high gear while I was stuck and stayed that way till giving up and going to bed.

Somewhere, somehow, in the middle of the night, I realized I wanted a tree even though it wouldn't fit the scale of the sun-face ... and the grapes had to go.  So, I started and one step led to the next and the blank canvas slowly became the finished piece shown here

Tomorrow, when I've caught up on my sleep, I'll post a link to a gallery of pieces from the retreat.  The diversity was stimulating and inspiring.


  1. I love this piece!

    And I always have this challenge when painting. I go from concept to judgement back again and back into judgement and then, when I let go, it happens!

  2. We are our own worst critics.

    I remember when my husband and I were visiting a pueblo in New Mexico and the potter invited us into his home. We found a lovely little pot that he immediately remarked was not fully balanced in shape, that it was his first effort. It was full of charm and good spirit and we bought that one. It appealed so much to us that it wasn't perfect but revealed the spirit within that the artist has now channeled into the most beautiful of pieces.

  3. some times stepping back helps so very much..
    I am looking forward to seeing your piece in person. Love reading your blog! hugs, v

  4. Oh, Joyce, whatever the process, the end result is just delightful. Don't you hate it when you go into that dark judging place? When will we learn that it's a necessary gorge we have to cross to get to the other side, the place where we abandon our misconceptions...