The landing at the top of the stairs that leads to my studio is a little crowded right now. I’ve been varnishing. That’s a big deal!
Varnish is the final, protective coat applied over a painting. Knowing when to stop working into a piece, recognizing when it is finished, is difficult for many artists, me included.
This particular group of paintings has been “underway” for at least two years. Each has gone through several, sometimes dramatic, transformations. I have displayed them individually in my studio, so that I could ponder what their strengths and weaknesses were, where they needed adjustment, and what that might look like.
I have hidden them away for months at a time. Sometimes that’s in hope that when I see a piece again after a period of time, I’ll have better insight as to how to proceed. Sometimes it’s just one step on the way to the trash bin.
These paintings are done on sturdy, custom-cut sheets of plywood, carefully primed and prepared for paint. That saved them! Even when I was totally discouraged with the imagery, I felt that I could still use the surfaces for experimentation. And I did. These pieces have had collage elements adhered to the surface, and have had those elements variously enhanced and obscured by paint. The surfaces have been painted over, scraped down, sanded and polished.
Not in every case, but a few finally got moved to the “finished” pile. Varnishing makes that decision final.