In a recent conversation with my pastel students, I learned that one of them particularly loved a painting of mine that is in my own collection. Many artists keep a personal collection of works. For me, these are the ones that fall into one or more of the following categories: 1) I painted it under the supervision of another artist in a course or workshop, and it is therefore ineligible to be shown in juried shows;
2) it represents a breakthrough in technique or approach for me, and I want to keep a memento of the lesson learned;
3) it is of a scene that has a significance to me (such as the small stream that crosses a corner of a road near my former house--when I reached that spot, I knew I was almost home);
4) I simply love it too much to part with it--or someone in my family does!
Buttercup Meadow (19" x 18.5"), pictured below, represents a breakthrough for me in the painting of various shades of green. Recalling Richard McKinley's admonition that "purple is green's friend", I underpainted the whole scene in various values of purple, both blue purples and intense red-violets. The resulting underpainting was pretty bright and a bit scary, but I gulped and started applying the many greens in this scene of spring by a meandering stream. I was delighted to find that, indeed, the purples provided a great foundation for the various greens, giving them weight and variety. I allowed quite a bit of them to show through the scumbled greens, and in the forground grassy area, they gave the impression of textured foliage and perhaps tiny flowers--exactly the effect I was seeking. I was very pleased with the resulting painting, and when my husband (my best critic and fan) said it was the best work I'd done so far, I knew it was a keeper. Buttercup Meadow, obviously, fits into category 2 above, and it's unlikely I'll ever sell it.
When I heard that my student particularly liked this scene, however, I wondered if I could perhaps approach the scene again, but in a different format. The result, Spring by the Stream (13" x 13") is the result. The new painting is much smaller than the original, has a slightly different composition, and includes brighter and more flowers in the meadow. However, I painted it in the same way (with a purple underpainting), and I think it is equally successful. I'm not sure I'd make a habit of this--it's perhaps not a great idea to repeat myself and have many iterations of the same work--but in this instance, with an original work I don't intend to sell, and a person who really wanted one like it, I decided it would be ok to try it out. An interesting experience!