Blue Bar, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 6 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.
Sometimes a painting just isn't working; it could be because of the color, the light, the form, the composition, or my inability to achieve what I'd envisioned. My choice is either to toss the painting––wipe it off and use the panel for another work––or keep trying to fix it. Blue Bar was one of these problem pictures: I really liked the composition, with the three circles, one large two small, and the big rectangular shape moving across the surface, a slightly curved shape, angled at bottom, a departure from regular geometry. But that shape was originally a red rust color, and I couldn't make it harmonious with the pinkish red of the background. Because I liked the composition, I decided to keep trying by changing the color of the bar; I thought a blue might work. At first the color was much too intense and I considered repainting the red to match, but instead I made the blue less saturated. Uncertainty comes with this process; I'm still not sure whether the painting works or not. What do you think?
Blue Bar detail
Another thing I changed was the color of the black circle, which was originally a much warmer black, with touches of burnt sienna. I cooled the color so that it would work with the blue bar.
When I'm uncertain about a painting, I like to look at it in the studio, alongside other works. Blue Bar seems comfortable in this company (I think).
This is the first time I've done this on the blog, but here goes: here's an image below without the screw on the left which was suggested by a commenter on facebook. And I think I like it better this way, (except that without that left screw, the black circle really should move over a little to the left). The painting becomes more simple and assertive. I'll think about it for a couple of days and maybe change it, much more difficult in paint than in photoshop.