Thursday, September 12, 2013

Reworking Images

Last night I sat down to remove some borders from images that I have for sale on my website.  I used to put borders around all of my images, but that was before canvas wrap around prints were available.  Since my art work is so painterly, it is well suited for printing on canvas.  However, the images with the borders don't work on canvas since the image can no longer wrap when it is confined inside a border.  Anyway, because of this I was going to remove the borders from the images online.  I started with one of my favorite images, "Lone Lotus".  Once I had the image open in Photoshop, I could not fight the temptation to play around with it.  I started mixing and stretching some of the colors with a technique that I have been dabbling in lately.  Before I knew it, I had completely reworked the entire image!  I still like the original, but I really like the new piece that came from it as well.  I couldn't decide what to do.  Should I upload both images to the website, take down the original and replace it with the new image, or put them both on the website but in different galleries?  As I was trying to make this decision, I started feeling a bit guilty about changing the image.  Yes, ridiculous, but if you know me, you know it doesn't take much to make me feel guilty.  I started thinking that in changing the piece after I had already printed and framed the original, not to mention made greeting cards and magnets, that I was devaluing the original piece.  Then I started thinking about what constitutes a finished piece.  Is it the fact that it has been printed, or is it only finished once it's been framed?  Is it a finished piece after someone purchases it, or can I, the artist, just decide and declare, "It is finished," while it is still only in existence as a file on my hard drive?

What about us as people?  What constitutes us as finished?  In my way of thinking, we are never finished.  We are constantly changing, growing and learning new things.  God is continually molding and shaping us, little by little, layer by layer.  I think that every now and then we reach points where we are more presentable to the public, or "frame-able" and then we go through another re-work, because even though we may look complete or appealing, we still have  a lot of rough edges or beliefs that can be smoothed or refined.  Does the state of completion that we are currently in negate the previous state?  Of course not.  To those that knew and loved us then, we were already quite becoming and yet, maybe the re-work is even more attractive.  Of course, there may always be people who liked us much better before the re-work, when our beliefs more closely matched their own. What do you think?  I know that many artists think of their artwork as their "children", so I considered my own kids.  What do I do with old versions (images, video, written memories) of my kids in the different stages of their lives?  I treasure them!  I loved my kids in each and every stage (although I'm the first to admit that some stages were more trying than others), and I also love the people they are becoming.  I wouldn't even consider getting rid of the older images or the past experiences, because they all represent a phase of their lives that was precious to me.  In fact, the more they grow, the harder it is to hit the delete key on even the images that aren't as great as others taken on the same day.

For this reason, I've decided to keep both versions of the images (that's plural because I did the exact same thing to the second image I opened to remove the border from) on the website.  Even though they both started from the same original and have many of the same qualities, they are completely different pieces and will mean different things to different people.  Just because one is newer than the other, and may be more refined, doesn't mean that I, the artist, didn't give the first version my all or that I appreciated or loved it any less.  I think that as people, we have a tendency to negatively replay in our heads the things we've said or done and we think thoughts like, "If only I'd known then the things I know now."  I don't think that is how God feels when He looks at us.  He knows what we will become and how He is going to use our current condition to get us there.  Zechariah 4:10 says, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand." (Zerubbabel was rebuilding the Temple).  Even though the temple wasn't complete and only the foundation had been laid, God was happy with where Zerubbabel was in his task of rebuilding.  Let's join God and rejoice in the seasons of our lives, our accomplishments, and ourselves no matter how "unfinished" we may appear.

Below are the two versions of each image, what are your thoughts?  You can find larger versions of the  original images here and the more painterly ones here.

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