A Work in Progress

In reality, most of us are a work in progress.
The arts have long wrestled with perfection persona.

Visual art rose as a form of communication. Skilled artists were often respected as Shaman. This divinity persona weighed on artists thru history. Michelangelo burned his working sketches. Ideas formed from devotion to work and practice, not from pure ‘ divine enlightenment’ would have been deeply frowned upon.

Yet, the most famous, celebrated painting in history is not without flaws. Leonardo Da Vinci’s portrait of “Lisa”, Titled “Mona Lisa” (meaning My Lisa) a brilliant work of art, has hints of overworking, mismatched horizon and hands, among other little ‘flaws’.
The portrait took 4 years to complete, and he didn’t feel it was his finest work.
4 years. Think of how much Lisa’s looks would have changed.*
Perhaps the artist, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and improvement may have been evolving too?

In an era of perfection pursuit, its comforting that with flaws, great achievements may illumine and perhaps, imitate life.

Conductor and Co- author of “The Art of Possibility” Ben Zander suggests one slightly off musical note played with sincere emotion is more powerful than a technically emotionally absent performance.
“If we include mistakes in our definition of performance, we are likely to glide through them and appreciate the beauty of the longer run.” Benjamin Zander

A well known artist told me as soon as a painting goes ‘south’ it must be discarded, urging my agreement. I rarely completely trash work. I like to see what may be possible, put it aside, ponder what may lie yet undiscovered. Not ‘rework’ it but resurrect it. Morphing the work may far exceed expectations, built on ‘flaws’.

I learned this lesson early in my career. Working on my last canvas for a group exhibit, it all ‘went south.’
Dismayed, my budget didn’t allow for purchase of more supplies.
The stress of failing to meet the show requirement haunted me for days. One evening after work, I decided to see if the canvas could be salvaged, maybe, just maybe if I combine mediums, acrylic and oil, maybe if I sand it down.. maybe…

The piece was a turning point in my career.
Because I was restricted from overworking it, it felt light and bold. It had spark. In effect, the flawed work beneath gave it life.

The day after the opening, a collector reserved the gallery to wander at his private leisure.
Of all the work in the show, unknown to him, he purchased a painting initially designated for the trash.

Revisiting work, or contemplating work that didn’t pan out isn’t a mark of perfectionism. It’s optimism born from personal non judgement.
We take the seat of self criticism seriously, with great respect of the process. Remove pride from the equation, and you embody energy and power of possibility.

~“I settled on a game called I am a contribution. Unlike success and failure, contribution has no other side. It is not arrived at by comparison.” Benjamin Zander.

* Reference: Robert Genn “The Letters” page 542

~ All new work is available for purchase.  I have been revisiting, and breathing new life into pieces I am so excited to share with you today!  please email me at dawn@dawnbanning.com

One side note, I have not taken a break from posting, or painting for nearly a decade. If you have not received these letters on a regular basis, the system on occasion may stop sending letters to those it believes are spam. I apologize for this inconvenience. If ever in doubt, please  go to my website, click on “NEWSBLOG” to see all new work & posts.

I am still technically restricted, without access to my computer, files & contacts or from using my camera for the photos. These were taken with an iPhone.