Thursday, December 8, 2016

Today in Art: Violating the KISS Rule

Ever heard of the KISS Rule?  That's Keep it Simple, Stupid.  I first heard it from one of my co-leaders when I led a Brownie troop.  In the 25-plus years since it was first stated to me, the rule has served me well...sometimes as much in the breach as in the observance.

In fact, if rules were made to be broken, then the KISS rule is my go-to rule.  It's on my mind all the time.  When I violate it, I'm acutely conscious of the transgression and try meticulously to pinpoint its genesis.  I squirm and kick myself.  I vow to learn from it.

Take my recent efforts to reproduce, on fabric, this image of my grandparents, taken in the early 50s.

This image holds tremendous emotional weight for me: it shows three beloveds, now long gone, in a beloved place: the back room of my grandparents' third-floor home at 102 Concord St., Hamden, Connecticut.  Reproducing this image is a way to honor them, and to honor my father, the photographer.  In fact, the act of reproducing this image has taken on an air of the sacred for me, and has become a means of sanctifying my grandparents' memory.

Emotional weight.  Check.  So here's one place NOT to violate the KISS rule.

But I did.

I felt happy enough about my first effort to post it on Facebook:

In fact, I'd just about declared it done, and I heat-set the pigments (Derwent Inktense pencils).

And then I decided it wasn't dark enough.

So look what I did:

After I darkened it, my grandfather, Puppa, looked like he'd been rolling in charcoal. I think that black eyebrow was the coup de grace.

So I prepared a second piece of fabric and started Take No. 2:

And again, the darks are too dark. My efforts to lighten up Puppa's face, with Jacquard Lumiere in pearlescent white, have given him a ghostly, tete de morte look.  Meanwhile,my grandmother, Honey, looks like a chimney sweep.

So I prepared yet a third sheet of fabric and produced this:

Puppa looks like he's been hitting the tanning booth.  Honey looks like the actor Ernest Borgnine, who, by the way, was also from my home town, Hamden, Connecticut.   Check it out:

But back to the KISS rule:  the violation is always apparent in the aftermath, never in the approach.

This time, I told myself that if I wasn't satisfied with the third effort, then that would be enough, and I might as well close up shop on this effort.

At this point, I'm not sure whether to continue on to try to fix numbers one or two, or give it up.

It's somewhat painful to share this, but I'm hoping that it will be instructive, at least to me.

And on a more positive note:  my childhood home on Concord St. in Hamden is still standing.  Here I am in front of the house in 2009.

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