A Change of Clothes

First, a quick joke. This was one I heard as a girl, and I could really relate to it:

Two girls meet and the first says to the other, “Oh, I love your dress. I have one exactly like it. Well, the color is a bit different, and mine has longer sleeves. Mine’s got pockets, too, and it’s trimmed in lace, but other than that, it’s exactly the same!”

That joke really doesn’t have anything to do with my art post today — except maybe the part about different colors — but I’ve always laughed at that joke, and it was on my mind this morning.

Yesterday I spent some time going through my paintings. There are a few I really like, ones my husband will frame for me, and I’ll find a place to hang them on our walls. A few are favorites not because of any artistic merit but because painting those scenes taught me something, sparked a memory, or moved me emotionally in some way. I will always keep those paintings and cherish them.

A lot of my old paintings, though, have no real meaning for me. They were just practice paintings on the way to learning more about what to do and what not to do. Now, they’re just wasted canvases taking up space in my overly-crowded kitchen art studio. It’s time for them to go — not to the trash bin, but back to the easel.

On a whim, I took one painting, re-assessed it, and gave it a change of clothing. I repainted it all with different colors, leaving the scene essentially the same, but different. Yep, that’s when that old joke first popped into my head.

Here’s a look at what a difference a change of clothes can make:

Comparison Paintings (2)

I definitely like the second colors better. I love my wispy grasses and weeds atop the hill on the right, and I like the way I created the dirt bank leading down to the water. It doesn’t show well in the photograph, but my rocks on the lower left also look good. All in all, to my eye at least, it’s a definite improvement over the original.

Now, I’m looking forward to reworking — or completely working over — a lot of old, unwanted oil paintings. It feels good to be seeing actual improvements in my work, and I feel I have a better understanding now of where I need to focus my time and attention. After months of frustration with my art, I’ve finally come to a point where I can fully enjoy it again.

Sometimes, especially as a young girl, all it takes is a change of clothes to get a new attitude, a new outlook on life, a new sense of confidence. I guess the same is true with art, isn’t it?


    1. Yes, that’s what I did. The first painting looked very washed out — it was originally intended to be a “nocturnal” scene with very muted colors. I didn’t like it. It was sitting close to my easel where I saw it every day. I just decided to grab it and brighten up those lackluster colors. I like it much better now. 🙂 I’m happy that you like it, too.


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