Mistakes that Come Back


 There are times when I find myself seeing bugs in the corner of my eye.  Usually it happens when I’m really tired, but every now and then, it’ll happen with shadows too.  It’s worth a good laugh if my wife catches me doing a double-take at a blank wall.

There are some things that will haunt me though that don’t make me laugh.  This image is one of them.  I think it came to me in a dream a while back- I can’t really remember when, all of a sudden, it was just sort of there.  This is typically how the paintings come.  Some of them show up and plague me gently- I say “plague” because I can’t shake’em once they’re there.  It’s not a terrible experience, and honestly for an artist, it’s a good problem to have.  It’s a story to tell.


I like the beautiful stories; the ones that are fairly balanced- the ones with poetic justice.  I think they sit better with me because they feel “nice”.  But, there are the exceptions.  Some of the stories I’ve told in the past don’t feel nice at all, but they are just.  To me, that makes them okay.


This painting is neither.

I feel the need to be open about this: what you see is not how the painting started.  Originally, below the wolf’s head there was no landscape; only a bouquet of dried roses hanging from the stems.  It was soft and sad and the petals were falling.  The original image was more haunting, but when I had it on the surface, it didn’t look right.  It didn’t feel right.  That story will be told in a later painting- probably with different symbolism.  Then, the painting changed.  It became darker and angrier.


Before the roses were gone, I saw a jester’s collar around the wolf’s neck, so I painted it in.  This changed the piece dramatically.  Now the wolf told a story of a fool back for revenge- someone underestimated and discounted, only to return with a bloodlust.  Great story- but not for this painting.  In hindsight, maybe the jester’s collar was the painting mocking me…it wouldn’t be the first time.


After 2 coats of white, the surface was clean to become what it is now.  It feels lonely and cold, and at least to me, it feels pregnant with something terrible.  I don’t know what this story means, but I kept hearing “mistakes that come back”- so that’s what I called it.  This piece took longer than I would’ve liked and frankly, I’m glad to be done with it.


3 Responses to “Mistakes that Come Back”

  1. 1 seth
    January 30, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Interesting composition… sort of disorienting. i was looking at the text in this piece a little different than any before, wondering what it means? Is in only decorative or is there some relationship to the concrete (language, numbers, etc)?

  2. 2 rerendered
    January 30, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I agree,the composition is top heavy; I was trying to play with space a bit. Because I tend to have a lot going on in my work, it’s something I’m new at (and clumsy with at the moment).
    The text is decorative, again, playing with space and composition. I wanted to add some of my normal elements, but also stop before they consummed the piece.
    Nice comment, thank you for the question.

  3. 3 namesake
    January 30, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Tony, this is a good fit for my mood today. Thanks for sharing. A bit of futility and sorrow in the imagery. It is sublime. But in response to the wolf, I hear myself saying, “bring it; let’s see what you have”. You are all that haunts me, but to fear you is a waste. Either you’ll take me or you won’t, but I won’t be afraid. I will stare right back at you, and stand my ground in this seeming winter wasteland, acknowledging you’re here and your threat is real, but less significant without fear. Whom shall I fear? Fear not. Be not afraid. Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherein Christ has made you free.

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