The Process: Epilogue


photographed at 8 pm in low light 
"Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it's very shocking to the system." 
 Flannery O'Connor

I'm fairly certain that a great many people think that the path of art is one big play day after another, slinging paint around, letting the lighting bolt of good fortune strike and flow through your soul to your fingertips so that images might manifest themselves as if by magic. It's not that way for me. Making art is a spiritual path that operates on the faith that I can face a blank piece of wood and turn it into an original work of art. Like faith, creative work can ebb and flow when the physical reality of painting and my own skill limitations intersect and crash into the idealized vision of what I want the work to be.

Yesterday ended badly for me and I went to bed discouraged. I knew I would not submit the painting as it was to the show. But when I woke up this morning I went right into the studio and began again with faith that on this last chance day that my problems would be resolved. Here is what happened today:

changed the background to blue and made sure there were tonal variations in the color (you really cant see it that well in this photo -but its not a solid color)

worked on the peacock body so Flannery's hands would show better.

painted new water where the tail used to be

worked on the cone of grace

erased the tail, changed its position and repainted the feathers.

changed the silver lining to a golden lining.

It is finished. I will photograph it tomorrow for the show application. If I make it in, the show is in October and I can tweak it a bit before then. I feel pretty good about the piece, it looks professional, the surface is lovely and it's size makes it impressive. I am very glad I tried something out of my comfort zone. I usually avoid painting people like the plague and I rarely paint an image as large as this. In my illustration background, most of the work was painted to be reproduced in a book so it was always quite small - like 11 x 14. But I like the power of big - its more impressive and there is no getting around that. By the way, the reason I painted large is to get on the wall with the good lighting. (if i get in, that is)
It's the only space in the show venue that can accommodate this size. Next I am going to paint Harper Lee with mockingbirds flying all around her in crazy flight positions.

yesterday -vs- today:

Thanks to everyone for joining me through this series, for your support and great suggestions and comments. xo Chickory


  1. Oh, Chicky, this is most impressive, even though I'm not seeing it in person or in its full size. And it has been an education and a pleasure to glimpse your process.

    Thanks too for our new badge for the Culinary Smackdown. I'm indebted to you squeezing designing it into your busy schedule, and everybody loves Flo!


  2. Its amazing what a good night's sleep can do for ones outlook! I admit've opened my eyes. I thought I was the only one who wound up in the slough of despond over my artistic endeavors. It's actually comforting to see that someone with your talent struggles...the difference is; you don't give up! Nicely done.

  3. Very nice. Especially like the changes to the peacock's wing and tail.

    Thank you for allowing the privilege of observing this process.

    PS: Plus, I know that the demons are there! bwwwwaahhaahaa!!!

  4. Well , well.
    I see the lightening bolt of good fortune struck and flowed from your soul , through your fingertips to manifest magic.

    Pretty fine doings Chicky.
    Damn fine way to complete a process.
    I hope you are proud for sharing your immense courage with we mortals.

  5. Thank you for sharing your's ups and downs and harsh realities and bitter truths...I love how the quote you provided from the author really sums up reminds me of another I heard..."Yes, it's easy to write...just sit at the paper until the drops of blood form." I think the struggle of the visual artist is often overlooked because it is a visual art... despite the fact our mistakes and second guesses can easily be seen at a glance and not hidden in a writer's drawer...But the piece is amazing. I love the blue versus the red sky and the development of the tail feathers. Always excellent work and words. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Chickory dear that looks amazing, I really love the changes you have made...the blue background with the tonal variations looks great and the coloured drops at the top of the cone of grace add more interest to the texture.
    I understand that painting is not a fun day splashing paint around, it is a spiritual process for you and you put so much of yourself into your art before you are satisfied with the end result.
    I have really enjoyed this journey with you and will be popping back from time to time for reference, I have certainly learned a few things about painting.
    I hope this is a winner and I hope you feel pride in yourself for working on when things went awry, it is quite an achievement; good luck sweet girl.
    xoxoxo ♡

  7. Funny, how you don't notice things until you see the differences side by side, but the new peacock tail totally changes the painting. Isn't that something? It gives it renewed movement and flow, and serves to contain Flannery instead of letting her float off down along that left hand corner. You worked this out beautifully and I love the end result.

  8. I heart you too, many times over.

    This week has been fascinating, exciting, tres suspensful, educational and inspirational. You write so well & with such bare honesty. I think Flannery & her peacock are gorgeous - The blue was a great change pulling it all together. Thank, thank you for this week of progress & process and oh my I speak for all of us I'm sure - we can't wait for Harper - much love S, Dee & les Gang

    ps. The Prince is adding cedar shingles to all non-brick (formerly faux brick Yuck & painted plywood) parts of this old house. I'll see if he has a spare slot during Indian Summer ;-)

  9. Wow. I cannot believe you did these changes in the amount of time that you had. This is perfect. I love the orange against the blue (yay!). I love the tail, it gives movement to the piece. There is an element of calm now. I thought of a baptismal. How still waters run deep. Redemption.
    You've captured a spirit of resilience. You are good, girl. Wonderful work. xox Pam

  10. See what happens when lightning strikes - and you're standing in water. I can't believe you repainted that entire background. The blue is a more heavenly color than red. I think you did enough work for 2 paintings. Even though it is not really work and must be fun to do. Bwahahaha

    Big effort with big results. Congratulations and good luck in the competition (I hope it dries in time).

  11. what can i add, but to say, gorgeous! thank you for this insight into your process! xoxoxo

  12. The detail on those peacock feathers is divine. And I love the change to blue, and it is a blue that could be day, or could be night. If that makes any sense whatsoever. But I agree that changing the flow of the tail feathers was a good thing. Do you have symbolism for the peacock? Is that something she is/was known for? Definitely I need to read up on her and also read her works.

  13. You're getting a bit of a Frieda vibe there and simultaneously letting your genius flow onto the surface. I took your "side by side" and blew it up. I have two suggestions, one: give her some shadow via darker water lines going forward which (and this will be difficult) softer "water darks" under the tail so it is still above the water. Two: That fabulous right hand landscape, you are really good at that, I'd think about putting it back on both sides with the variety of the original.

    You are right, unless someone is going through the process, they don't know how painful and exhilarating just one piece alone is. Every artwork is an adventure. We are always too careful not to bite off more than we can chew and yet, when it happens brand new worlds open. You've opened one and the progression is pure enlightenment. What you are doing is what I banished having blown it badly with the Gloriosa and slunk back to landscapes. If you don't get the prize for this work, I will have to send muy (many) complaints, but I don't think that I'll have to.

    Very much looking forward to Mockingbird. I LOVE your fearless process. Such unadulterated courage!

  14. In truth who am I to suggest anything. Except, you mentioned psychic connection and I get it. My respect for your perseverance to get where you want to go has skyrocketed.

  15. It's not art if the artist half asses it. There has to be some pain involved, some part of the artists soul transferred to the canvas, paper, film, whatever or it is just a picture or some notes on a paper. The other side of the coin is that the artist only works to please him or herself -- all that matters is the artist is happy with the end result...

  16. MY heavens chile'--thas' a whale of work! An' how amazin' fer us'uns to be the fly on the wall in yore studio.

    I think Nina is spot on--would really really like to have the woods back at the horizon line--it is subtle but needed anchor --similar to a baseboard to make a room look finished where floor and wall meet--subtle but "finished" looking.

    The peacock's tail is lovely in version Blue.

    You must be so proud.

  17. Eggy: just think of that as my "eggplant" entry. Im glad you enjoyed following along as I made this painting. It is rare that I would choose to paint an actual recognizable figure - and rare that it would be so large.

    deborah: no I wouldnt give up...although I have at times. some work has been so bad it needed to be abandoned. This wasnt one of those times. Thanks for being here and for all your sweet comments.

    lx: yes we know the secret that lies beneath that serene blue. thank you, friend, for your major contribution to this work.

    fishy: your visits through this process were like rays of sunlight. I thank you. You were wonderful and gave me such great feedback. I cannot thank you enough friend! blessings on you.

  18. hilary: i think that was Hemingway? he should know. on Etsy there is a shop with the name "this is all i know". and i love that. I can do a lot of things, and i have had a ton of jobs...even careers, but like SPock told Kirk: "this is my first best destiny" its not how well i do in the world that is important, but that the way of art is a way to apprehend the world.

    diane: i am past the contest now. Even if i dont get in or win a prize, I am happy I was able to paint a person that looks like its that person! and I learned a lot about acrylic paint. I dont love it. I will learn to like it though. Thank you. You are very special to me, and I ahve always appreciated your support and sweet words.xo

    boxer: that flows back you <3

    moi: amazing isnt it. I fixed the sky and was saying to myself. wtf! then........that damn tail! fixed it and the rest is history. this is not a typical painting for overlapping layers and massively decorated surface. Its a pleasant change. I dont know if I will win a prize tho. hope I get IN the show.

  19. susan: in many ways, this week was for you. I dont know when we talked about it but I think you asked how i got things going. Remember, like you, it all starts with a rather tight drawing. You have a great prince of a cowboy and that makes me happy. Thanks a million for being here this week. xoxox

    Yoborobo: you totally get it. I am glad it reads as calm. content. whole. I like her look - very matter of fact and unswerving. Thanks for all you commentary -your keen observations and support. You are a treasure! xo

    buzz: grrrrherhahahaha! it wasnt hard actually. I had my pool boy paint it. thanks Buzz. It'll be dry. all the judge will see is the photo on a CD. if I get in the show, it will be in October. Thanks for coming by this week. you are a good bud, and I 'preciate you. I wont give you a heart or an xo or anything that would embarrass your burly yella ass.

    savannah: you are a sweetheart! what you said was perfect. thanks so much!

    Pam: in CHristian art, the peacock is the symbol of immortality. neat huh? but Flanery raised these birds. A comment my friend Cary made was a good one; she noted how relaxed the birds feet are -implies trust. I like that.. Thanks for being here, grandMAW. xoxox

    Nina: glad you got to see this! Its a big stretch for me, a person - i do layered plant and animal work when im just flowin' are right about the shadow under the bird tail. what a dumb oversight. i was so tired at the end.....too late though.the CD is gone and will soon be in the judges hands. I WILL fix it if it does get in. thanks. oh the trees? once I put in the new sky they just looked stuck on was too symmetrical too..and had i had them extend into the cone then I had to deal with light...i was just burned out. Thank you, for your suggestions, and your friendship. you know that I treasure it. and who are you? like what you wrote "i am the artist" i love that. xo

    PhoKid: what an absolutely correct statement. Im glad you came by - as a real life supporter of my work, I can tell you that seeing your name blink up gives me great joy. thank you so much.

    aunty: its too late. the CD is gone. but thanky for coming by everyday to check on my progress. I am happy with this painting - in person it has great presence. are you still gonna buy this from me like you said on day three ? grrrrherhaahaha. its okay. I'll let you off the hook. and the new tail? SO much better. every stroke of feather had my full concentration. I went too fast on the first tail. xo to you dear aunt

  20. Yes I *IS* gonna buy it--ya' kiddin'?

    It do have "great presence".

    Not only did'ja paint a person that looked like a person, ya painted a person that looked like THE person ya' meant to paint!!

  21. Thanks again for taking time out of your crazy busy schedule to design new badges for the Culinary Smackdown! Announcement post up at my place.

  22. I am glad the CD has gone out. I know you are exhausted, now you are done with it and free to take on whatever YOU want.

    Rest. A job well done. A deadline met. Your animal/plant family is missing you. Congratulations and Namaste, I bow to you (too).

    Love you.

  23. fascinating account, c

    it always is interesting to see
    into the artistic decisions & methods
    of a particular artist and her work -- enlightening

    at the end of the day, though, it is preferable that a painting be still and silent

    you do nice work -- good luck with your show

    × × ×


  24. She is beautiful. That tail is a gorgeous swoop of energy. The process was fascinating to watch and thanks again for allowing us to watch the birthing process. Good luck with the show!

  25. I prefer the new tail too. To me they are completely different paintings and I can't say either one of them is better, I just prefer the blue and curve of the bird's tail. The water looks a bit more dangerous and dark too. You have a lot of balls to put this out there for all of us to comment on, it's hard to take suggestions without getting defensive, but we all appreciated that you took us with you on this journey. Good luck, girl, you worked hard and accomplished something you never did before! xo

  26. Bravo! And congrats for getting your entry completed first.

    You see, my version had her holding a plugged-in hair-dryer, but unfortunately I ran out of models.

    (p.s. - Black Bart wants to know if he can trademark his variation: "Epi-Log", for a male hair removal device that he plans to market to Craigslisters.)

  27. You are amazing- and I love that I know the demons are under the blue paint, as well as a dog print hidden in the water ♥
    I hope and whisper a little prayer that you get in the contest. I adore Harper Lee. Reading TKM again as an adult with both my kids during middle school was simply a treasure. You are a treasure too~

  28. Chicky
    You asked about my artist uncle a few posts back. Well I finally got around to writing about him.

    The Artist I Remember

  29. I so hope you get in!! I really love this work.

  30. New Project. Time Sensitive. My usual fee applies

  31. "creative work can ebb and flow when the physical reality of painting and my own skill limitations intersect and crash into the idealized vision of what I want the work to be."

    Found your own?


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