STUDIO: “Night’s Forces” Emerges from the Room of Shame

Richard Bledsoe “Night’s Forces” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 30″ 

Let me tell you about the room of shame.

The room of shame is the place where unfinished paintings are stacked, faces to the wall. It must have close to a dozen residents right now, some as large as 30″ x 36″. Some have been in there for many years.

These are paintings which I began, and then at some point in their development, I lost the plot, and the point, and my ability to finish them. This happens sometimes when working intuitively. The inspiration dries up before the work is complete.

I always have multiple works going. For example, right now, I have 4 unfinished paintings pending, 2 of which are practically done. So it’s no great blow to my productivity if I have to put something aside temporarily, or not so temporarily.

Some incomplete works are unsalvageable. I will paint over them, and create a whole new image.

But the paintings in the room of shame are worth completing. I still believe in them, and am waiting for their moment to return. They say the way you do something is the way you do everything. I may be slow, but I am persistent.

Case in point: Night’s Forces.

I began this painting in 2015. It was far advanced when I had to put it away. I’d had a series of studio sessions on it where instead of improving it, I was making it less effective, less resolved. It was a complex composition. I couldn’t get the colors and definitions to function. Off it went to the room of shame, where it lingered for years. Until a few weeks ago, when I brought it out again. I made some big moves on it, because at that point I had nothing to lose. The work would either crash, or crash through. Fortunately, it was the latter.

Night’s Forces is now finished, and I’m ready to move on with additional new projects. My wife Michele Bledsoe created a video of me working on it as it entered it final phases. See the video here:

Video-Remodern America: Renew the Arts and Renew the Civilization

As I state in my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts will change the Course of western Civilization:

“Remodernism reboots the culture. Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation.”

Sometimes a painting needs a time out followed by an assertive jump start. This return is driven by Remodernist motivation: I need to show you what I saw, so we will better understand each other, and life as a whole.

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13 thoughts on “STUDIO: “Night’s Forces” Emerges from the Room of Shame

  1. I have several of those myself, though none so wonderfully rendered as yours. I always feel, not shame, but frustration, when a painting doesn’t go the way I’d hoped. I try to remind myself it’s the process not the product that matters. With middling results.

  2. Thanks! I believe truly creative people always have a level of frustration with completed works. I always feel like I could have done it better. It’s that feeling that pushes us forward, encourages us to work harder, and to grow.

  3. Richard – very interesting indeed. This just shows how much of a ‘non-artist’ I could be named. When one reads about other artists – even the biggies, they, too, had their share of unfinished paintings, which may have remained unfinished when they were discovered after the artist’s death.
    In my case, I’ve deserted some paintings because the actual need to fulfill them had fallen away. Commissions or projects that ceased to be, etc, but never the reasons you have just described.

    Wait – I tell a lie. 40 years ago I started a Sci-Fantasy image of two winged beings encroaching another, who is in the process of guiltily scything off a pair of eyes growing from the ground.I cannot recall the exact reason for its desertion. Everything was in place. All lines had been drawn in ink, and the rest would have been a matter of filling and airbrushing. I still have the 30″ x 40″ image – cartridge paper bonded onto a thick cardboard. When I look at it, I asked, “Why?” – and put it back as swiftly as the idea came to dig it from behind several bulging portfolios.

    Had my style changed? I very much doubt it, as I was still painting Sci-Fi and Sci-Fantasy until well into the 1980s. I’ll never know, as there is nothing in its composition that required altering – this is really the only image that belongs in the Room Of Shame.

    Every single one of my paintings has sketches, plans or calculations preceding them. It is the sort of ethos that would have had the De Koonings, Rothkos and others sneer and/or turn in their graves. I simply do NOT know the feeling of standing behind an empty canvas, paper and not knowing what I’m going to do next. The experience is anathema to me.
    Many years ago, an eccentric old gentleman artist wanted me to experience the feeling of ‘impulse’ drawing, where you’d sit behind a blank piece of paper and just let your innermost feelings and automatism reign free. He showed me some of his examples which I found interesting. It never happened and I never had the will to try it out and perhaps waste a good piece of innocent sheet of paper.

    My most recent painting was a portrait of a Dutch actor. I had to experiment with his hair, mouth, cheek, eyes, in order to get it right. My own personal reason to persevere in this one was that I was 95% there and that the other 5% were just goading me on. Perhaps my OCD is worse than anyone else’s?

  4. I have the same system, I suppose all artists do. Sometimes you, and the art, just need to take some space away from each other for a while. I’m glad this one turned out well for you.
    I recently sold two pieces I thought were terrible; one of which was about to be dismantled. It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose. I think, as artists, we are often harder on ourselves than we deserve.

  5. Richard, you realize of course that we have Senators acting like established artists now producing about the same product.

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