My mother’s recipe for chow-chow calls for a pickling brine of vinegar, sugar, ground mustard, mustard seed, turmeric, and whole pickling spices. This is what will preserve the mixture if it is canned properly. The directions tell you to bring this brine to a boil and add the vegetable mixture. Cook for 10 minutes; then fill the jars and process for another 10 minutes.
Some days I feel like I need a brine to pull my art together, to bring the flavors together, to make it what I envisioned. So many days my art time is in snatches here and there. Also, since I usually work on at least three pieces at the time, I may be back and forth studying what I’ve done, what I like, and what I don’t like. I know I can usually fix what I do not like. I can add here or subtract there, but the “fix” doesn’t usually come quickly.
It is a struggle not to just throw the paper away or start sanding on a wood panel. But I always try to remember what one of my favorite instructors, Katherine Chang Liu (https://www.katherinechangliu.com/), advised: Don’t throw a painting away even if it is on paper. Keep working at it, keep painting till you get it right. It was her way of challenging me and other artists not to give up quickly, to keep adding shapes, changing colors, making new marks, taking some away.
Once the chow-chow has been processed, you have to let the jars cool—first to hear the ping sound that indicates the jars are really sealed. (And trust me, if you have worked this hard, it is exciting to hear it.) But you also don’t want to store hot or warm jars
This is also the hardest part in art. It is especially true if you aren’t quite happy with the painting. If you believe a painting is finished, you want to show it to the world. But I’ve had more than a few “oh dear” moments when perhaps something appeared that I hadn’t seen before. Once my husband asked “why I put that face in the painting.” Don’t get me wrong; it’s not always a bad thing. But if that is the only thing your viewer’s eye focuses on, they will miss other parts of your creation.
Usually, we first had chow-chow on the table at Thanksgiving. It added a burst of color to the fall meal and reminded us of summer and harvest.
Hanging a good painting, whether in a show or just on the wall, is like that. It reminds you of your hard work and the feelings and emotions behind the piece. More importantly, it gives you the satisfaction of expressing yourself using your own type of language—art language.
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