September 30, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

For a long time I have allocated my Sundays to painting.  I usually do paintings for clients, on the basis of their requirements, but unfortunately during the last 4 months, which were badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, all sorts of activities had stopped. So there were no customers and no pending orders for me.

That gave me a chance to do paintings according to my own requirements and interests. I made a painting of a Vietnamese girl, which not everyone liked, but I liked it.  The fact however is that I am one such artist who usually does not get fully satisfied with the painting produced.

After finishing the first painting, I thought of going for another painting, then I realised that there was no fresh canvas in my stock. With all markets closed due to lockdown, there was no other chance for me to re-use some old canvas.

Luckily I found an old canvas, on which I had started making a painting some years ago, but had left it. Actually I had lost interest in that particular painting, so it was left unfinished.

Now I decided to re-use the same canvas. I decided to make another painting on the same canvas. This time I was going to paint a beautiful girl on this canvas. Since the canvas already had colours and layers and was no more a flat surface, I used sandpaper to flatten the canvas partially. I left most of the canvas with the same previous colour layers and flattened the middle part to paint the new portrait on it. I had thought that I would make the previous background lost in thick new layers of paint in a zig-zag pattern.

But that was my mistake, which I realised very late. Honestly speaking this time also I was not much interested in making a good new painting since I was doing it just to kill time.

But as time passed and the new painting started taking shape, I really liked it. It was going to be a wonderful painting this time, so I continued working on it. I wanted to finish it as early as possible, but this was not going to be that easy.  As I was working on it, I realised that some patches of previous layers of colours were evident right in the middle of the face, and in some other parts of her body. So I once again started rubbing most of the painting by sandpaper to make the canvas level and workable. By doing so, most of the new painting on which I had worked long sessions, got some serious patches here and there. To re-adjust that I had had to work again on the painting to balance the colours on her face and body. I worked on that in different phases.  Still not satisfied with the colour combination and filling of patches on her face and body, I decided to start working on the background.

In the overall layout of the painting, the background was going to be plain. A plain wall, having a light colour. That condition made the situation difficult since initially, I had not thought that there would be a single coloured plain background. My original plan had failed. If I made a plain coloured wall, the bumps on the surface of canvas, from the previous painting would be more than obvious. I would find myself going through another tiring process of using the sandpaper to flatten the canvas surface for the background of the painting. But I did not do that. I decided to paint some plants, flowers, leaves, etc as wall decoration.

So I started to paint the plants on the wall in the background. Unfortunately, when I looked back after finishing the background, I realised that it had affected the overall beauty of the face of the girl. The attention that the girl in the painting was going to get was found diverted towards the flowers. I did not want that.

So I went through the long process of again using sandpaper to level the surface of the canvas. The fact is that however much the surface of the canvas is rubbed by the sandpaper, it never becomes sharply flat. There is always layers of thick paints left here and there. But there was no other option left for me but to ignore those layers and paint the wall of the background of the painting. So I painted a light grey wall as the background of the painting.

Back again I started working on the face of the girl, which was still unfinished. I really liked the painting. It was going to be a wonderful painting. But I was still not satisfied.  I was still seeing deep patches of previous layers of colours on the face of the girl. I am sure no one else would notice those patches, but as an artist I see them.

To make the story short, the whole process has so far taken more than 5 weekends, and the painting is still incomplete. I wonder if I might have finished two more paintings during this period, had I used some other old canvas, with fewer layers of colours. In life sometimes it happens, that the more we try to do something, the more it becomes challenging and tiring.

But now I have decided firmly to finish it this weekend.

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