My Inner Voice Said: Just Cut Off a Bit

You know when you’ve 99% decided you want to do something, but once it’s done it’s done so the little bit of uncertainty makes you hesitate, and hesitate, and second-guess, and hesitate? That’s where I was with this painting (inspired by daffodils in a blue vase) when I’d decided I needed to cut off a bit from the bottom:

Daffodils in Blue Vase Uncropped
Acrylic ink on A3 watercolour paper.

I’d added the Payne’s grey to give a sense of the blue vase standing on a surface, because it had felt like it was floating. But having done it, it felt like an irritating distraction; being acrylic ink, it dried quickly and adding more paint would spoil the transparency, so I let it be.

Having left it overnight so I wasn’t quite so emotionally connected to it, I reminded myself that just because the sheet of paper was A3 when I started, and I’d fitted the composition into this, it didn’t have to stay this way (that’s one of the joys of working on paper). Out came another sheet to see where I should crop it. Up, down, lift off, up down, lift off…there. Make a light pencil mark. Get ready to fold the sheet so I could tear it (having given up on finding the metal ruler and knife). Hesitate. Look again. Repeat.

Eventually I did fold the sheet and tore it along the fold line (with the mantra “hold the piece you want to keep in your tearing hand”). Phew, I hadn’t ripped the painting and did like the result.

But then the sheet had three hard edges and one torn edge. So I repeated the exercise and tore the other three edges too. Not really sensible, but we shouldn’t always do the sensible thing.

Daffodils in Blue Vase Cropped painting

blDaffodils in Blue Vase Detail from Painting

blDaffodils in Blue Vase Detail from Painting

6 Replies to “My Inner Voice Said: Just Cut Off a Bit”

  1. I’m a fan of the torn edges Marion. There’s something soft there that a clean cut from a paper trimmer wouldn’t have had . I also really like the focus on small sections of the whole.
    I frequently ‘cropped’ children’s pictures to either remove unintended marks, balance the space around the image or just to bring out the best in their work. (Occasionally, 🤫the cropping was make it fit the space on the wall!)

    1. It’s rare that a whole painting doesn’t work, that there isn’t a section that’s pleasing, but remembering to look for it is an art in itself (and why paintings shouldn’t be scrunched up in the heat of the moment). 🙂

  2. I “crop” my photos all the time, but that is easily reversible. Makes sense to take out the irritating. Funny thing is that I like the bottom…most severely cropped version the best…the “micro” version showing the details of the drips is most satisfying to me! 🙂

    1. It raises the interesting question of what do we see when looking at a photo of a painting compared to seeing the painting in real life and thus at actual size. Would you have noticed the drips if standing in front of the painting, or would the overall have distracted? It’s one of my favourite bits of the painting, hence the photo.

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