In the spirit of Earth Day, the month of April will find many galleries showcasing Re-art. In my own tribute to the idea of reuse–I painted on top of another painting. Not just some failed effort sitting in a closet that needed to be torn off the stretchers and destined for a landfill, but a painting that had previously been shown in an exhibit and which I had considered “finished”. It sometimes happens that if a painting hangs around the studio long enough I’ll find some fault with it and in a moment of utter frustration with whatever is on my easel at the time, I’ll rework that which is close at hand and dry. I do try to exhibit some impulse control when it comes to finished works, however. In one of those moments last week, the painting “like mist from unhurried clouds” felt flat to me (shows more depth in digital) and lacked a local reference. I wanted to bring it more energy, more life, more of Bellingham. Redo.
Unfortunately the curators of the Reart Shows don’t find a painting on a painting a proper expression of reuse as I do. Even more interesting to me than the idea of reuse is the secret image under it all and actually having a digital capture of this previous incarnation. This process of overpainting is nothing new and has been used by artists for centuries either from the desire to rework an unacceptable composition (like me) or out of desperation for any surface to paint on (like me also). We know about this usually through x-rays and other scans of masterpieces. There is even a term for this resultant evidence of the reworking or the peekaboo of the initial painting on the surface of the new painting–pentimento (plural pentimenti–derived from the Italian word pentirsi meaning to repent).
Here’s to upcoming Earth Day (I know it’s early, but I’m just aching for Spring) and my own re-art derived through repentance with a bit of pentimento. An enveloping sky on top of mist from unhurried clouds.