Sunday, March 19, 2006

My friend Heather is really smart. I'm not sure she even realizes how much she has helped me. On more than one occasion in fact.

Like the time I had this failed abstract, a 30x40, sitting in my studio. I just didn't know what to do with it. I had painted so much, layer after layer, that I couldn't even look at it anymore. I was out of answers. Heather took one glance and said, "why don't you use it as a background for one of your collages."


Wow, what an idea. I thought about it for a few days and realized the brilliance of her remark. And here is what I did:

I turned the 30x40 abstract into a 30x40 collage which I call Cast of Characters. It is sort of a compilation piece of many of my collages. I think of it as a painting where some characters from my collages simply walked onto the canvas. Which is kind of what happened if you think about it. I made that piece about a year ago and it has become my signature illustration of what I can do in the way of custom work and has been an amazing publicity tool for my business.

And then a couple of weeks ago after I had done the background for the big commission. I was suddenly stuck and afraid to paint. I called Heather because that's what we do when we are stuck, we artists; we call each other up on the phone. For me, I turn to either Rhonda or Heather.

Anyway I was whining to Heather, telling her about my block. She used to paint murals and said this happened to her all the time. She said, "give yourself permission to make a mistake."

Blink Blink.

Of course, now why didn't I think of that. Clearly, I was going to make a mistake during this piece. I mean it's friggin' huge. There is no way I would get through the entire thing without incident. And what is a mistake anyway but an opportunity? And I do mean that because I have discovered some of my very favorite techniques while managing my way through a mistake. That doesn't mean I like making mistakes, just that I accept them and learn from them.

So, voila. I couldn't get off the phone quick enough and hope Heather didn't find me rude. I had painting to do, my fingers were itching for a brush. And I gave myself permission to make a mistake.

If you would like to take a look at Heather's website, here's a link:


  1. MaryBeth-

    Very interesting. We are more alike than you know. Only problem-I have no one around to throw off my ideas & ask for help...

    One thing I Will say - First, how funny - because I simply ASSUMED that the way you create your collages was the way she told you to solve the use the abstract that wasn't working for you as a background for collage. That's always the way I do mine - background first - collage on top. How very funny, huh?

    Second - I so totally agree about allowing yourself to make a mistake and not strive for perfection. That is one reason I am so grateful to Sas Colby. She instilled in me that the first thing to strive for is freedom. That striving for perfection is the worst thing one can do. I made a horrible mistake on the whole cover of a huge journal, and she had me re-think the cover. I mean literally, tear it to pieces and start over, striving to go where the gesso & charcoal lead me instead of doing what I usually do - having it all "planned" out. And I am telling you, it really made a difference. sometimes I tend to forget all about that experience and get back into that "perfection" mode - every time that happens I hit a creative blank.

    Thanks, because your post reminded me how important it is to throw perfection out of the artistic window and just GOOOOOOO.

    By the way, I love the final result of your piece. another wowza.


  2. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Hey Mary Beth,
    Thank you for being so kind. I am apparently a blogger idiot because I have managed to send you two e-mails thanking you for such nice words before I figured out how to actually post my thank you in the comments. So, thank you. It feels so great to know that I have helped you, because you have helped me more than you will ever know. I can't wait to see your big commission when it is finished. I know it will be just beautiful.
    ps thanks for the link to my site!


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