Will this annoy me for all eternity? A Litmus Test for a finished work. / by Vanessa Longacre-Wilcox

Zebra painting

So have I told you about my zebra? No?  Okay, here goes.  When I was in 4th grade we were each assigned an animal to research and create a painting on a large piece of cardboard (better than the project we did on a piece of asbestos!  It was the 80’s…what did we know?)  

I remember very vividly working on the zebra.  I even remember the music playing on the radio and singing along to songs like Uptown Girl and Putting on the Ritz as I painted.

I worked methodically copying very closely from a photo.   When I was done with my zebra I looked down at what I had created and realized that it only had three legs.  In the photo one of the hind legs was hidden behind the other.  Having a three legged zebra seemed unacceptable so with very little thought about what a second rear leg would look like, I hastily added one in. 

This may have been the end of the story if it weren’t for my dad loving this zebra painting and having it STILL hanging on one of his walls (just look up when those songs on the radio were playing to get a sense of how many years that has been.)   I think it took me a good 20 years before I let go of the urge to sneak in the middle of the night, take the painting down, fix that tail-looking rear leg, and hang it back on the wall as if it had always been that way.  I don’t feel the need to do anything about it anymore but I’ll admit, it still annoys me. I still have a discussion with my 9 year old self every time I see the painting and ask, “Really?  What was the rush?”

This week I completed a painting (the one featured in my last post.) As I was finishing it my 6 year old son was working on a project next to me.  He began to drill me with questions about my painting and ended with a declaration that it looked done to him.  “Almost.” I said.  He asked me how I know when a painting is done and I said, “When I don’t see anything left that will annoy me for all eternity.”

Like that damn zebra leg.  Let it go Vanessa, let it go.