This morning I read that Chuck Barris passed away. (I was wondering if it is possible that he timed his “gong from life’s stage” immediately after the very recent passing of music legend, Chuck Berry, just to create a little amusing confusion in this week’s conversations.) His kooky game shows are forever engrained in memories of my youth.
So, in honor of Mr. Barris, I decided to share some photos of the destruction and transformation of a painting where his contributions to my childhood shaped my decisions at the easel. I present to you, The Unknown Artist (A Self Portrait) – Unfinished & Abandoned. A cautionary tale of working on a painting while upset, and about knowing when to step away.
The Unknown Artist (A Self Portrait) by Nicole Moné (Unfinished) 18×24″ Oil on Linen
This painting began as a (more conventional) self portrait – the block-in started out alright.
And then…I made the grave error of working on a painting while streaming the 2016 election results….
It devolved from here. I was not thinking about the painting and was adding random colors. I completely destroyed the painting of the head in short order.
This could have easily been salvaged – but in the moment, my perception was that everything was ruined and could not be fixed. (Wine may’ve been involved.)
When I returned to the studio (with great apprehension – for I knew what was awaiting me), I sadly laughed to myself as I mused how it was time to “hit the gong” and pull this bad act off the easel…
Thinking about The Gong Show and “the Unknown Comic”, I added the bag to my head to make me The Unknown Artist – then came the gong and I drew in my mahl stick as the gong mallet. I was very disappointed that the original progress on the painting was gone – but my new self-portrait lifted my spirits. If everything is ruined – find a way to make yourself laugh.
Again, as it looked when I liberated it from the easel:
Now, with some distance from the “incident” – where I had abandoned this painting to move on from the election-night-studio-carnage, I am actually thinking this self-portrait captures me (at least a few facets of me). I just might let this canvas get back on the easel and finish its act…
Now, if only I could hit the gong and have someone pulled off the world’s stage – sent packing with the “Worst Act” award…
The take-away here is two-fold: 1.) By all means paint when you are very upset – just not on an ongoing painting for which you have a plan. – and – 2.) Set your destruction aside for a few months and look at it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind. You might have the beginnings of something, completely unintentional, that makes you smile.
Also, goodbye Chuck Barris. Thank you for adding to the strangeness of my childhood.
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