I love happy accidents.  I find them only in art, and I find them often, especially since I lean toward the abstract.  I never know what I’ll find there.

For instance, I am all set to do a triptych in the back yard. Three 30 x 40-inch canvases sporting a museum wrap (the paintable surfaces go around to the sides and are stapled to the back) lay touching each other on the picnic table. They extend out over the sides. Remember, the total measurements of the workable area are 40 x 90 inches.  Huge!

I choose a yellow ochre background and paint it with a broad brush, then set out black, white and rusty red bottles of acrylic paint. That is the end of any preconceived plans.

I pick up the red liquid, hold it over the camvas for only a second, then watch as it starts out of the bottle. It’s time for action. I move around the table, swooping here and there, fascinated by the action taking place before me.  Soon something tells me Stop! so I do.  An important aspect of creating art is knowing when to stop. It’s too easy to keep on going until you’ve ruined it.

I’m on automatic when I reach for black.  There’s no big decision. I put it where it is supposed to go. It’s where the red isn’t. I don’t want any blending on this one.  I want movement, so I make my way around the painting, making intuitive decisions.

Now it needs white. The composition is coming along— curves, wide patches of color, and thin ones to counter-balance it—plops where I decide they should be, trailing lines take my eyes on a journey up and down and around my work. I like what I see.

I let it dry, then my husband wires it for hanging.  After he gets it up on a living-room wall I nod my approval. I’ll take a photo later.

Several weeks go by. I put the camera to work, process it in my computer and print out a copy.

As Bert and I stand in front of the painting, the print in my hand, checking out the details, I slowly turn the print from a horizontal view to a vertical one.

My mouth drops open in disbelief. “Oh, my gosh, this is the way it is supposed to be—vertical.”

I see music! Who ever sees music?  Yet here is the suggestion of a figure, maybe playing a bass? Pinging little white notes

look to me as though they escaped from a flute.  Broad loud-looking lines are undoubtedly deep, vibrating drum beats. I see melody too.

“I’m calling it Allegro.”  There is no doubt that that’s its name.

There’s a strange thing about this painting regarding my signature. It’s in the upper right corner. Another strange thing is that I like it there.

Who says there’s no such thing as a happy accident?

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Note: Double-click on the art to see it enlarged. More of Gene K. Garrison’s art may be seen at gene-garrison.artistwebsites.com. She is a member of the International Society ofExperimental Artists, Sedona Arts Center and SAGA (Sedona Area Guild of Artists), and is listed in Who’s Who In American Art.
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