Long long ago, my mum wandered into the studio and saw something she liked. That wouldn't seem so unusual, she is my mum after all. One may assume that being her daughter, she loves everything I do, but she doesn't.
Nor would anyone, surely.
But on this particular day long ago, she did. The two paintings she liked, and wanted, were just little experiments that had gone awry (as experiments happily can). They were paintings of the type that lean, face to the wall, in hiding, waiting to be painted over some day with the next experimental whim. Nothing that I even intended finishing, let alone allowing them onto someone else'e wall with my name squiggled into the corner. But Mum wanted them, and I said "Mmm maybe, ok, they're not finished, I need to just... when they' re done, I don't know, maybe next year?"
I meant No way. Never. How embarrassment.
A couple of house moves ago they were packed into boxes and somehow ended up in my parent's garage. Mum, being mum, unpacks boxes and found them, and reminded me of my half-semi-sort of promise to finish them for her. I entered her garage the next time I visited, with dread. I thought I was rid of those things. I had the same level of enthusiasm as you might have re-heating last Wednesday's dinner, knowing it wasn't even that good when it was fresh.
But fresh eyes are beautiful things. I'd forgotten what the failed experiment was meant to be and now I could see the colours and the shapes. I could see movement, and delicate plays between the spaces. I couldn't see any of this before of course, because I was busy searching for my amazing, miraculous experiment outcome, which wasn't there.
So the happy ending to this story is that I joyfully finished the paintings and they became something new. They are on Mum's wall now, and she loves them - she always did. She didn't know or care what I was trying to achieve with them in the first instance. She saw at the beginning what I couldn't. These once rejected beauties have now inspired a new little series that I'm working on right now. And I'm in artistic bliss. The other part to this happy ending is that I've changed my attitude to all of those old or unfinished paintings that lean, face to the wall, in my studio. Once libraries of embarrassment, shame, and self-torment, they are now paintings-in-waiting. Maybe started too soon, or ended prematurely, they now wait for my fresh eyes to catch up and see them again, minus their unmet expectations.
They're waiting for my mum. Still my best customer.