Reflective light technology might reveal another painting by Leonardo underneath the Mona Lisa.  Not exactly news.  Many artists make major changes to design elements as they paint.

An artist friend of mine recently began painting over old works.  The reasons were threefold:  
  1. Some paintings which seemed satisfactory at the time were now perceived as unsuccessful;
  2. Recycling old paintings saved money (no financial outlay for new stretchers or canvas);
  3. It helped resolved the never-ending storage problem.
I used to think that it was a good idea to keep all work, even bad work as a testament to personal growth, but now storage is an issue.  I find myself holding back from drawing on a large scale because I have no clue where to file away the work.  I need to undertake a thorough inventory but in the meantime, I will follow in my friend's footsteps.  Destroy in order to create.  

Detail of old painting
I recently pulled out an old painting done in the eighties. I remember building the stretcher myself.  It's a solid sucker.  No way this beauty is ever going to warp.  I took a picture of the work for posterity because for some peculiar reason, I didn't choose my most devastatingly horrible painting. It was initially difficult to start covering the image but there was no going back.  No pain, no gain.

I left some parts visible and rapidly discovered that the old fed the new. Novel colour combinations, differing textures and surfaces led to unexpected results.  

Another artist I know chopped up older drawings and created a most unusual and beautiful series of collages.  Maybe after 35 years of practice it's the way to go.  Artists are notorious hoarders.  We amass an abundance of interesting and beautiful things to use as references for future inspiration.

I doubt anyone will ever bother to discover the hidden layers under my paintings via x-rays or reflective light technology.  That only happens to the Mona Lisa.  

I'm not going to show anyone what was under my latest painting except for this little cropped bit on the left.  The photograph of the destroyed painting is for my journal and perhaps a new digital work.   The old will continue feeding the new.


  1. Diane, I don't think that anything you do ever gets 'old'. It may no longer give you satisfaction, you may have accumulated some work since you made 'it' that may be more deserving of storage space, but images made in other circumstances must reveal forgotten truths and hide gems of still relevant ideas? They obviously become agents for you to re-discover and elaborate, essential aspects of your work.

  2. Yes, and that is why there is angst when one destroys to create. An artist friend calls these re-creations Phoenix Paintings. Work is given new life. How lovely is that?


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