Reframing: A Story of Life and Love

March 24, 2017

It all started with my first water lily painting—a masterpiece, so I thought. And I loved it!

 

 

I considered this painting so special, so perfect, that I preserved it in a very fancy frame, behind glass. Everyone admired it, but no one could touch it, so no one bought it. The painting hung in the shop for months, looking beautiful but isolated.

 

I thought I could improve its chances of being sold and going home with a new owner by making a few adjustments. I removed the glass and stuck the painting back in the frame, but things no longer fit. In fact, the frame fell apart: 

 

It was sort of a train wreck. I set it aside for awhile and turned to making something positive.
 

Time passed, and I struggled with this unresolved piece of art stashed in the corner. I wanted to move on, so one day I quickly popped it into a brand new frame. I even had to cut off a few inches of my precious painting to make it fit:

 

Now it looked orderly. It no longer looked like a train wreck. Even so, I felt sadness; my precious painting had lost its feeling, its sense of life, in this new skin.

 

Wanting to come to peace with the painting, I sat in my studio, asking for answers, and looked around as if the solution were already there. Suddenly this 3-D frame came into view:

 

Why had I not seen it before? Did I even like it? It was so dimensional and multi-faceted, and already contained an established piece that was not mine. Dare I disturb it? Pull it apart?? Could that even work???

 

I decided to take a risk and just went for it. Tearing the paper skin off the back revealed an old and messy canvas underneath. The rusty nails and grime were somehow known, a comforting familiarity from the past.

 

Then along one side, I spotted a surprising imperfection in the canvas board…a missing piece! I noticed the other three sides were slightly uneven. And yet they filled the gap to hold the canvas in place, as if these perceived imperfections were exactly what served to bring sturdiness to the fit.

 

A few rusty nails went flying as I pulled out the canvas board. Only the frame remained now, stripped bare and exposed.

 

Hmm, did I know what I was getting into? Could I trust placing my beautiful painting into this scrappy space? I hesitated, but decided to give it a try.

 

And then--oh, no, I hadn’t planned on this! My beautiful painting, now too small and oddly shaped due to cutting off several inches, no longer fit this frame. What had I done? Why had I cared to make it look so orderly before? How could I have sacrificed its wholeness in exchange for an artificial fit?

 

Wait a minute…think…breathe…look around for inspiration…aha! What if the pieces could be reshaped, rewoven, and put together in a different way than before, as a new painting that could be viewed up close, admired and touched? It felt like a crazy idea…

 

…and it would require "surgery"… 

 

Amazingly, healing took place. I no longer saw the scars of jagged edges, but an ensemble of diverse colors and shapes. At this point, the restored painting was ready to fall easily into place within its new frame.

 

As a last step, I wedged the canvas board back into the frame, now holding my painting securely in place. I smiled to see a sliver of blue tape peeking out from one corner, a happy reminder of the reconstruction that lay beneath.

 

At last, it had become a new creation of love!

 

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