My first  Glitter & Grunge "abstract angel". The first of many. She evolved from layers and textures... scratches and scribbles.  She was free and effortless. And once she appeared, I dared not touch her again. It wasn't out of fear that I couldn't improve on the piece. It was out of awe of this innocence and imperfection that couldn't be more perfect.  

I stepped back and just let her be. She kept drawing me back to her. And then I realized... and remembered something. When I was a little girl, I would climb up on my mother's bed, and she would place her huge sketch book on my lap. The pages spanned the entire length of my little arms, and I would reach to turn them ever so carefully. She worked in pastels, so I had to be careful not to drag my little hands across the images. I never did. But I sat, and stared for hours. I can still see the autumn leaves, the wrinkles in the faces and hands, and my favorite.... The unfinished Christmas Eve... My heart just stirred writing those words. After so many visits, I can remember it so well. I wasn't just admiring that work. I was in it. Why? 

The composition was from a little girl's perspective, hiding at the landing of a staircase, where she secretly watched Santa Claus lovingly place all of the presents beneath the tree. The colors..... Those luscious crumbly colors of 1960s pastels. We'd call those "retro" or "vintage" colors now. They were magical. The background was a deep, yet faded and worn aqua. My favorite color. I guess I just realized why as I wrote this.  And the tree was true green with glowing lights and simple ornaments. The stairs were still just sketched, in pencil. Faded and yellowed sketchbook paper behind the graphite. Exposed layers. Faded pastels. Eraser marks. Changes made. Indecision. 

My favorite piece of work. Ever. 

All these years later, I still think of that artwork. Even though I have not seen it in years. Why? Why did that piece intrigue me so much? Draw me in so deeply? BECAUSE it was unfinished. I think I knew that even then. There is something about an unfinished piece. The artist is still there. You're not just viewing a piece of art, you're experiencing the process. You're inside of the layers, some of which may not be visible at the end. There's a magic in it. An intimacy. 

As much as I admire so many beautiful works of art, the simplest still capture my heart the fiercest. Van Gogh's work is so colorful and bursting with imagination and innovation. Yet... it is his sketches that make my heart go pitter patter. I love pencil to paper. I love backgrounds. I love where the paint leaves just enough graphite to tantalize the imagination. 

Many years later, my mom, having heard me tell the story of how that was my favorite artwork ever, decided to surprise me... and finished it. 

I had told her a thousand times about my memories and how I treasured it. But she didn't understand that it wasn't about the wall decor. She didn't understand that modern pastels with their modern colors could never improve upon the remnants of faded  jewel tones. My favorite aqua covered over with a bright cornflower blue. The sketched stairs colored in. What was a faded  piece of my childhood, now resembled a page from a coloring book. I said, "thank you", of course. And I hope I didn't let my disappointment show. I never wanted a Christmas image in a frame. I wanted a childhood memory. I wanted a moment in my mother's creative process that I could visit forever. 

And as a disclaimer, I do not mean to sound ungrateful. Believe me... I've done the same thing to my kids... thinking I understood what they wanted and missing the mark. This isn't about my mom. Her intentions were pure and full of love. I really hope she never knew.

As an artist myself, I am still drawn to unfinished work. I often watch artists work, and so often wish I could have convinced them to stop at an earlier stage. But.... it's not my work. It's theirs. 

I also do work that goes the distance and fills in every nook and cranny of the canvas. I often overwork a piece. Those are the ones I most do not like. I forgot to let the magic do it's own work and thought I could do better. Nope. And once I go beyond that place, the magic rarely revisits a piece. The illusion is better than reality. My perfectly painted lips could never in a million years touch the perfection of the smudge that tricked the eye into thinking it was a lip. 


And so we learn, and grow, and keep on drawing and painting. Hopefully, leaving a few unfinished along the way for someone else's imagination to visit someday. 

This one shall live with me forever and watch over my little studio. Perhaps she will whisper in my ear, "Enough".