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Save a painting by cutting it up

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of paintings that are not bad enough to throw out but not good enough to put on my website or, perish the thought, sell to anyone.  If I don’t want it hanging on my wall, I don’t want it hanging on theirs.  So what’s an artist to do?

Last month, Frank O’Cain did a demo in our Abstracting from the Model sketch class at the Art Students League that gave me an idea for at least some of those poor old paintings.  First, Frank did a wonderful charcoal, pastel and gouache sketch of the model. Then he proceeded to cut it in half down the middle and pasted the two halves together but not aligned vertically (one side higher than the other) on a larger sheet of colored paper.  He then continued the demolition and reconstruction of the painting by cutting out and replacing pieces of the painting … sometimes angled slightly … sometimes in a completely different location.  Here and there the addition of more charcoal, gouache and voila, a new and even stronger painting.

Well, if he could do it, why couldn’t I at least try?  First, the original painting.  I liked it, but it had some problems that I didn’t know how to solve. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to scan the original before I started cutting it up.  First, I cut it straight down the middle and shifted the right side up and the left side down.

Rapunzel, original


Then I cut out the yellow and white section in the upper right corner, tilted it and cut out a small rectangle in the center of it.  Then I cut out the same yellow white section on the lower left and tilted it. Then I cut an arc out of the lower right and tilted it. The I elongated one of the blue stripe panels in the upper left so it jutted into the main green area.  A few more changes followed.

The end result:  Rapunzel.



Well, if it worked once, maybe I could make it work again.

Here’s the original.  I had already made the center cut, but pushed the halves back together for this quick photo.

Warrior, orig

Warrior, original

Next, I cut out some of the pieces and rearranged them.  It was starting to look really good, but it had one major problem.

Warrior, interim

Warrior, interim

My eye kept going to what looked like her right lavender boob.  (Actually, the boob was a problem in the original, but in with the other problems it didn’t stand out as much.)  I knew it had been the V-neck of her sweater, but that didn’t matter anymore.  It looked like a giant boob.  It had to go.

So here’s the result.



I like the way the curves flow into each other.  My original painting was of a strong, robust woman, and then she became a warrior.

There are a lot of these not quite ready for prime time paintings in my document files.  I think I’m going to keep doing this and see where it goes.

Posted by ruthhurd on December 30, 2012

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