During January of 2010 several of the Chelsea Painters participated in a painting day fondly dubbed ‘Before and After’. Members traded old, unfinished paintings, adding a fresh perspective and a new hand to move unresolved paintings to completion. Participants not only had a lot of fun but the end results were remarkable.
Artists tend to agree that while some pieces seem to ‘flow’ and complete themselves, most paintings are a struggle to fully resolve into coherent and attractive pieces of art. In some cases, a painting will be put aside until it can be looked at some months or years later with fresh eyes.
During the ‘Before and After’ exercise, each participating member brought in one of these old, unresolved pieces and passed them off to another member to finish. Each artist used their own medium to add to, or in some cases largely cover over, the piece they were given to work on. While Chelsea Painters members often provide feedback and suggestions to help members resolve particularly stubborn pieces, this exercise allowed for hands-on exploration of possibilities.
A few weeks later all the pieces were brought to a Chelsea Painters critique, along with their ‘before’ pictures, allowing the entire group to see the results and learn from the exercise. It’s interesting to see how each participant’s vision for a piece differed from and built on the originating artist’s.