Knowing when to let go

Some days I find painting so engrossing and enjoyable, and some days I find it frustrating and disappointing.  The majority of the frustrating days have had to do with trying to master the “bloom,” a very specific technique created by an artist in Australia. 

It’s a very challenging technique to master, I dare say one of the most challenging methods of paint pouring there is.  Of course, I didn’t realize that when I started out.

When done properly — that is, when the chemistry and humidity and possibly karma all align — it is just incredible art, at least to my eyes.  It is a combination of cells and lacing that oftentimes looks floral, and that’s probably what drew me to it originally.

I started trying to learn how to blow the bloom back in mid-March, working on 4-inch ceramic tiles, hoping at some point to graduate to doing blooms on canvas.

I’ve spent quite a bit of money on the supplies required that are unique to this particular form of paint pouring.   I’ve also put in more hours than I care to think about right now.  I’ve had some pretty results here and there, including the bloom shown above, but I have repeatedly been this close, and seldom nailed it! 

I have used up a lot of paint and a lot of energy.

Now, when I find myself into my fourth gallon of paint, and fourth month of practice, I am truly baffled by the hold this particular form has had on me.  It’s like I’ve been under a spell of sorts.

When I bought this last gallon of house paint, the 4th gallon, I told myself this is the last.  If a person can’t get a handle on a technique after four gallons and four months, they need to let it go.  Right? 

It’s true I’ve made some progress this last month.  I have more tiles now that I’ll varnish and keep because even if they missed the mark they are still cool looking.

However, my attempts are also feeling more laborious and less rewarding.  Tonight was not an uncommon night.  I poured the base paint, added my bloom colors, and used my breath to blow out a bloom.  Damn, not enough cells and very little lacing.  Re-use the base paint and add some more colors.  Take out one of the four different blowing tools I have purchased and try it for the next attempt.  Not bad but still a miss.  Scrape all the paint off into the bucket and pour a fresh base layer.  Different tool, same result.   Frustrated, discouraged, and I still have to clean up the mess that each paint pouring session produces in my little home studio.

Cleaning up after a successful pour is never as annoying as cleaning up after a pour with nothing to show for it.

A few weeks ago I was going to do a post just about the bloom, the process involved, etc.  But today I have decided — not for the first time, but hopefully for the last — that it’s time to let this one go.  It was worth giving it a try, and that I did.  But it’s definitely time to move along.

In the silver lining department, there is an offshoot technique called a bloom swipe that requires all the same ingredients I’ve already purchased.  A few days ago I did an abstract landscape with the bloom swipe that is my favorite painting since I started the pouring journey. 

Detours occasionally reveal the most beautiful byways.  The wrong road sometimes takes us on Excellent Adventures.  Know when to let go, and enjoy the journey!

Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do. 

Edgar Degas

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