Five Birch, Ron Kok, Acrylic on canvas, 2017
Sometimes a canvas sits around, lonely and unloved, for a long time, like an orphaned urchin on the street, until that certain someone comes along and gives it love.
“Five Birch” is now a completed painting, but for the better part of three years it was a cast-off, a painting in search of a reason to exist. I had started an idea, painting the background a sky blue, but then I moved on to other things. In fact, at the time I wasn’t painting at all but drawing, not even secure in the knowledge that I could paint (having hardly touched brush to paint for twenty-five years).
I often find myself with unused paint which a student of mine has left on a palette. So over time, I just added colors to this canvas, not really having a solid plan for where it was going. Eventually, I stopped doing that and the canvas sat quietly and forlornly in a back corner, sometimes being moved around to make room for more important artwork. But, truth be told, I never completely abandoned it. I never painted over it or gave it to someone else to use. Perhaps I had some feeling for it after all…
However, it wasn’t until a co-worker of mine picked up that nary-a-work-in-progress and said, “I love this!” that it seemed possible for this canvas to amount to something after all. In fact, she wanted to take it home, little sad urchin that it was, but I protested, “It’s not finished!” (Realizing, as I said this, that I didn’t have a plan for finishing the thing, like, AT ALL).
That was about a year ago. Since then, that co-worker was injured at work and we haven’t seen her around for over three months. Being the kind of personality that she is, we’ve all missed her. Thinking of that and that love she showed for that near-rejected canvas, it got me motivated to actually finishing it. It was time.
I layered paint with palette knives to get the birch texture as well as layering colors, trying to get the feel of the bark. I added some color and additional lines to the background and… I had a painting I could be proud to give to that co-worker who’s heart was big enough to love it even before I did.
Yesterday I delivered the painting to her house, had a great visit with her and the wonderful man in her life (they are soon to be married) and, best of all, got my photo taken with their pooch, Maverick. All in all, a journey worth the three years.