I loved waiting for the ghostly image to appear on the paper. I hated all the time and money I spent trying to perfect each print. Every mistake meant another sheet of costly photo paper and another 10 minutes cycling through the chemical baths.
I missed the Undo button on my computer. Perhaps that's why I packed up my darkroom and surrendered to digital photography. I'm having the same experience learning to paint. Where's that Undo button on my palette?
I can show you what I mean in this series of paintings from a class I'm taking at Kirkland Art Center. In the first one below, I've just started adding color to the underpainting.
So far so good. Nothing to undo yet. I can fix the most obvious problem -- bringing those floating objects down to earth -- by expanding the shadows and darkening them at the base.
In the next class session, I experimented with hues for the background. But what happened to my lemon? (Yes, that's what it's supposed to be.) It's rolled toward the edge of the table and gone all two-dimensional. Undo button, please.
Class session 3 and the background is finished. It's neutral, with just enough variation to keep the eye moving. It's exactly right. Except it's boring. Something's missing. That's when my instructor says the terrible word. "Drapery."
I spent the next 2 classes wrestling with the drapery. Unfortunately I didn't take photos of the intermediate stages. You can bet I longed for my Undo button then, wanting to go back to that boring but painterly background. At one point, my drapery folds looked like death rays from space. My instructor helped me turn them back into harmless fabric.
I'm happy with the final painting. But when I look at that red ball, I wish I could hit the Undo button one more time and return to a previous version. Oh well.