So what, if you have to move the whole thing over just two inches?

Close Up View of the Screen Door and Coffee Can in Progress

Close Up View of the Screen Door and Coffee Can in Progress

He would work on paintings for enormously long stretches of time, just simply be dissatisfied.  I would come in and there would be a terrific painting of a man, and Bill would grudgingly admit that it wasn’t bad, but then say: “But he has to be moved over two inches”, and he just eradicated him.  He was very discontented constantly.  It was what kept him going.

Elaine De Kooning, describing the painting habits of her husband, Willem De Kooning

This anecdote always amused me about Willem De Kooning and his constant studio revisions.  Long ago, I had been taught that some revisions were just not possible in watercolor.  Slowly, I’m finding all of these statements to be untrue.

Andrew Wyeth relayed the story that he was working on this composition of Karl Kuerner in drybrush, and it sported a gigantic moose head trophy on the wall.  When Anna walked in on him, perturbed, snapping at him in German, “Why didn’t you come down to breakfast when I called,” Wyeth was fascinated at the sight of the man turned away from his wife and the high-powered rifle pointing at her.  She allowed him to put her into the portrait, and he sanded the moose head trophy off the wall between them.

When I read that account, I thought, “Wow! They always told me that you could not erase watercolor, you’re just stuck with what you’ve got.”  So, I went back to a painting that I had recently finished and regretted.

Blues on the Corner

Blues on the Corner

Once this watercolor was finished, I regretted not having put a guitar player seated in a chair on the corner.  Having read of Andrew Wyeth’s revision, I purchased 150 grit fine sand paper from my local hardware store, sanded a full circle out of this painting until it was white, and then drew and painted this guitar player inside the circle, finally retouching all the background colors and textures I had obliterated.

Why am I going into all this detail?  Well, when I awoke this morning and looked at my current painting before leaving for school, I realized to my dismay that I had drawn the left frame of the screen door too narrow in proportion to the coffee can and the horizontal screen door slat below the can.  I was 3/8″ of an inch too narrow.  And I had already painted in the dark screen interior with masquing and painted the left margin as dark as I could get it.  My first reaction was “Too bad.  Nothing can be done about that now.”  Then I remembered Andrew Wyeth’s “Kuerners” and my own “Blues on the Corner” and thought “Why not?”  I laughingly recalled Willem De Kooning saying his man had to be “moved over two inches.”  I came home from school, measured the new margin for the left frame, and sanded the devil out of it, turning the entire page surface blue-gray.  A good scrubbing with the eraser turned the page white again, and then I started all over “aging” the wood with drybrush and graphite work.  I’m happy I decided to do it.  The widened door frame looks right now.  (Incidentally, the door frame is straight; when I shoot close-ups with my camera, the lines curve, and I don’t know enough yet about Photoshop to straighten those lines again.  The painting of the door frame is actually straight-edge straight).

I had to stop painting to put this stuff on the blog.  I really wanted to share it, with all the fun and laughs.  I feel “madder” than ever, as the scientist noodling around in his laboratory again.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


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2 Responses to “So what, if you have to move the whole thing over just two inches?”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    Well, especially looking at the next blog, I prefer the gentle curve in the door to a dead straight line (for what the comment’s worth). Tony


    • davidtripp Says:

      I used to feel that way too. But now I’d like to draft some of my uprights and horizontals a little better than I have in the past, and it bothers me, seeing that bow in the image that isn’t really there. Lately, when watercoloring architecture on location, I’ve been using a straight edge to draft the structures, making sure I had them squared up properly, then redrawing the lines heavier by hand, making sure they sagged on the horizontal, and allowing for some irregularity on the vertical. So far, those have been the most satisfying.


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