Re-creative Process

Medicine Lake, 24x30, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

It's an exciting time for my paintings because we are having a big reunion in the studio! How do these reunions come about? Everyone knows that the life-cycle of a painting starts with conception and ends on a wall. But what happens in between?

After I make a painting, I try to figure out the best way to get it out into the world. The choice is usually one of the wonderful commercial art galleries that represent my art, but there are also non-profit shows (like the upcoming annual Signature Artists' Medal Show in the FCA Gallery), collaborative projects with other artists, all kinds of exhibits and fundraisers. Some paintings like to stay for a while in my home or in my studio, where they can be seen by most welcome visitors.

Ideally, paintings find their permanent homes through one of those venues. In reality, finding the right home for each painting requires a lot more engagement. In this sense paintings are similar to children. Some of them realize that they are not on the right path, and they come back home to regroup. This can be a fun time, especially because (unlike children) paintings can be re-assessed and modified.

This is what's happening in my studio right now. Paintings returning from all kinds of adventures are telling stories of what happened to them. Some even have scars and bruises to show, so I give all of them a lot of TLC.

1. Cleaning:

I always clean my acrylic paintings with soap, and fix any damage that may have occurred.  Here's a tip for cleaning of the edges that got smudged by frames, or by rubbing against other paintings (if they were not stored properly). I discovered that a gentle rub with a wet Mr. Clean magic eraser removes those unsightly marks in no time. Just don't rub too hard because you will remove the varnish and paint if you are not careful.

2. Re-varnishing:

At the minimum, I apply a fresh thin layer of Liquitex acrylic gloss medium varnish. Most of the darlings are now ready to go out again on a new journey. For others, this is just (a new) beginning.

3. Re-creative Process:

The best part of having them back in the studio is an opportunity to look at each piece with a new pair of critical eyes, and assess if it would benefit from a change.

Typical checks for things easy to implement are:

- Shifts in the color temperature (a warm or cool glaze)
- Shifts in value (dark glaze or a light veil)
- Softening of hard edges, or affirming of fuzzy ones
- Minor composition tweaks (re-direct the viewer's eye by adding, removing, or modifying a line or a shape)
- Calligraphy / bravura / texture by adding a few finishing brushstrokes
- Cosmetic issues (make sure the edges look neat and they present the work well)
- Emphasize or subdue the highlights

But the process may extend beyond simple adjustments. New ideas may emerge and take the piece in a new direction. And even further than that, ideas for new paintings and new bodies of work evolve and take a life of their own. I am truly in awe of the creative, and re-creative process. It proves to me that art is not, and never will be, merchandise. It is a product of inspiration, love, nurture, and a unique and mysterious creative force.

Every step of the painting's life-cycle is precious to me and I am happy to say that there are no cookie-cutters in my studio!