Beth P.

My studio is in pretty good shape because I did a major purge before we moved this past June. I still have way too many art and technique books, but I’m motivated now to donate them to the local library.

I meditated a lot this week on the idea that limitations are not always negative. While looking through some “reject” paintings, I found one from a watercolor painting class I took several years ago. We were experimenting with crumpling rice paper, attaching it to watercolor paper and then seeing what we could make out of it. At the time, the figure of a shrouded woman appeared to me almost immediately. Seeing it again lit a spark and I wanted to see what I could do to make it a more finished composition.

Developing this piece was an exercise in practicing positive action with limitations.  I could not find the spray bottle of ink I was looking for so substituted a stamp and stamping ink. I prefer to hand stitch but found trying to stitch through two layers of paper and one of felt was an exercise in frustration. Out came the sewing machine I haven’t used in almost two years, and thanks to a quick cleaning and oiling, I now have another tool at my disposal. When spraying gold fabric paint on the felt to give it some sheen, I forgot to cover the painting and got gold paint all over it. While trying to mop it up, I realized that I liked the gold shimmer that it gave to the surface and I was reminded of iconography. Suddenly my piece went from being an experiment to having a much deeper meaning. The woman in my painting became “Our Lady of Limitations”. She is hanging in my studio now to remind me that I have a vast supply of techniques and materials and that I can improvise when I don’t have what I think I need.

The first photo is the original painting. The second photo is the completed piece: “Our Lady of Limitations”. The third photo is a detail shot. Someday I will have a better camera and learn how to light things properly. Most of the metallic shimmer in the border threads and on the surface of the piece does not show well in these photos.