Weight of Balance continues….

August finds the world suffocating from heat, wrapped in a tight plastic grip that removes the ability of breath to nourish the body.  Even the non asthmatics have trouble now.  On the nineteenth day of record heat and no rain, it comes; the heavens open and wash the world and the thermostat goes down.  Not a moment too soon.

This was the beginning of this painting….before I left for Atlanta..

Another in the ongoing Weight of Balance series has been finished.  I must admit this painting began its life as a totally different painting in both thought and emotional context.  I feel the need to share and define my moments of struggle and defeat in my work, as well as the triumphs. Both the good and the bad days  amalgamate and balance out and become a part of me and my work.  I started this  painting with several layers of gesso, acrylic paint, and soft gel on  a cradled wood board. I often like to use soft gel with my gesso, to give the wood a texture as well as protection. After these layers had dried I began to put the design down on the surface, I do this with paint rather than  drawing it out  with pencil or charcoal, when I am working in this manner with acrylics.  My thought was to paint something figurative but I really wanted to see if I could leave my Weight of Balance series for a while and start a new series.  Time was of the essence to begin this painting because I knew that  I would have to leave to make  an art  delivery to Atlanta the next day.  I left the painting in the state of the jpeg above.  I wanted this to be about  two animals and their  silent dependence and interaction with each other.  A really peaceful and somber state of grace that animals have has always attracted me to want to paint them in this manner.  I left with the intention of coming back and diving right back into the deeply textured layers that I left that day, but something happened to either me, or the work in that expanse of time and space.

When I came home I walked into the studio and looked at the painting, I still felt the familiar little tingles of excitement about this painting’s early stages and even the contemplative thoughtfulness about the subject matter remained.  I was still tired from driving, so I forced myself to wait until the next day to begin the work on the painting. This was probably a mistake to wait. I was so excited about this painting, it would be something new and different,I almost could not sleep that night. I love the Weight of Balance series but they are all intensely personal, and almost so introspective, that I felt I  needed a break, or so I thought.  I awoke and drank my coffee, and did not finish the last cup before I headed into the studio.  I laid out my palette, and got my brushes lined up, and music going.  I faced the painting and suddenly, there was an uncomfortable blankness in my mind.  I mean literally nothing… What happened?!  Had I just thought too much about  this piece?   I just could not make a move, I was paralyzed with numbness.  The way I usually handle a situation like this; is to just dive in; and just go for it , make a bold move good or bad, just make a move, and try to start the reconciliation process. The very  aspect of just painting usually will solidify the work for me, sometimes it takes a while but it gels eventually. So I did the old dive in and paint adage; that had worked so well in the past…this would prove only to begin a long and painful process, one stroke led to another and then another and the more I put on the painting, the less I felt any connection to it. What is wrong here?   The sure sign of defeat to me is when I no longer feel any pull to the painting, the cords that should be there were gone and there was no sign of their ever having been there. It was dead, and there was no way to save what had lay dormant and dying for the last 48 hours, while I was away in Atlanta.   So I pulled the plug.  I took the life saving colors away and sanded it down to almost bare wood, and white washed any remnant of the prior layers and  life it had possessed.  I readied it for new life.  I don’t adequately know how to describe the way this feels to me, there is this moment of total control when you destroy something that was a part of you only hours before, but  it is heavily  mixed and laden with a deep  emotional fear and dread. I would be lying if I told you otherwise and this opens the door to a whole plethora of negative thinking thoughts like maybe you are just done, you have nothing left inside anymore, your best paintings are behind you now. And worst of all you are the probably the last to know it.   It is a somber moment, but it is only a moment, remember it will pass, so  you have to put on a good face and go at it again.  The time between the gesso drying and the first labor pains of the new painting are the best, and I start to feel refreshed again, there is now room for redemption and by golly I WILL HAVE IT, come hell or high water this board will have a painting.   Game on! But with a new piece in the making, the concept and thought will take a new direction.  I had to forgo the previous one and begin anew. And then it happened….

The impetus of this particular piece happened to come from  out of the blue and unexpectedly with an early morning phone call.  The call made me reflect on many parts of life, and the hand we are dealt, and how we play it out in life, and how very helpless we can allow ourselves to become.

Weight of Balance :Addiction by Cathy Hegman full painting middle stages day four (1 of 1)


detail Weight of Balance Addictions detail middle stages


We all have some addictions, whether it be as serious as heroin or as seemingly benign as chocolate, it is still comprised of  heavy binding strings that wrap and hold us in their grip, while we watch the  world revolve around us, without notice of the struggles we face.  The painting resonates  the feeling of addiction partly due to the scale and proportion of the figure to the surrounding landscape, and the tenuous balance achieved visually.  The lines that both bind the figure, and extend and tie the figure to the landscape, in a diverse and odd way, also give the painting a connecting balance.   For me, this single figure dangling by strings that both entrap and uphold it ,seems to portray the feelings of addiction.  The feeling of being  enrapt by the contentment of the addiction being  suffered, all the while being  powerless to break free ,  left  simply to  remain motionless.   And so this is what became of the board, I am happy with the outcome, I feel connected to it; and I feel it has the same umbilical pull the others in this series have had for me.  For now this series has taken a life of its own and in a strange and familiar way I think I  knew it all along.


Thank you for reading my blog! 

Take care,

*All artwork and text included in this blog is copyright protected by Cathy Hegman and should not be reproduced in any form or fashion or used without the written permission of Cathy Hegman. All text and artwork included in this blog are solely the thoughts and original art of the artist, Cathy Hegman, unless otherwise noted, and are meant only to be guidelines and thoughts for others to read.my blog.

About Cathy S. Hegman

Art, much like a road links people together both visually and mentally. One can attain a glimpse inside the artist’s soul by studying the artist’s work, and perhaps find something that links them to the artist and the art. A work of art has the ability to resonate and touch the emotions without regard to age, gender, race, or religion through the application of pigment to canvas or paper. Art can be the voice that cries out without limits, or sometimes whispers the thoughts of the creator. Art speaks silently, yet conjures up feelings and gives satisfaction that is undeniable, and yet intrinsic. It validates our need to learn about ourselves, and gives us freedom to search for our own identities. The road is long and often dusty, but always renewing the spirit with inspiration. It is my hope in this lifetime to give a part of what I have learned through and on my journey with others. The deepest form of us is revealed in our thoughts and my art is the translation of my thoughts to paper and canvas. I paint layers of color and line to create a history of marks that will guide the viewer into my world of thought and engage them in the process. I embed personal symbols throughout my art to give it deeper meaning. I encourage you to think about life in a visual way and to contemplate our connections with each other and the world we share.
This entry was posted in acrylic, Art right outside my back door. The Big Sunflower River, canvas, cathyhegman, female, figure, fine art, painting, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Weight of Balance continues….

  1. Great post, Cathy. Not being a figurative artist, I still get the same disconnect if I don’t continue while the process of a particular painting is at hand. I have a big diptych on the wall…….and have just come home from the workshop in Dallas…………..will go see if I can still make a connection tomorrow.

  2. Cathy…..I am happy to find your blog again! Your posts are great~love your images and your writing is so inspiring!

  3. Chris M. says:

    Hi Cat, Enjoyed reading about your process. It is painful isnt’ it?! I love the cat piece, and the piece that came out of it is gorgeous. I’m probably reading way to much into it, but there is something in the expression of the cat in the back and the front cat looking away…a bit haunting. For me, they are both very strong pieces, the cats had to be there before the figure…intreguing, n’est-ce pas?

    • Thank you Chris! Yes I believe the finished piece could never have had the impact it had for me,without the beginning layers and work involved.
      I have begun to need the process of failure, rejection, complacency, and renewal in all of my pieces of late. It is as if each phase of the process is a key that unlocks the door to something new yet familiar to me. I really appreciate your taking the time to read my blog and for being so kind to comment and give me your thoughtful words. Many thanks to you

      • Chris M. says:

        “I have begun to need the process of failure, rejection, complacency, and renewal in all of my pieces of late. It is as if each phase of the process is a key that unlocks the door to something new yet familiar to me.” That’s powerful. I really like that. Too often I give up before too early in the process. Every layer adds a richness, even if it’s not exposed.

  4. Ro Rainwater says:

    It’s taken me awhile to get to read this, what with the renovations we’ve had done recently, so I’m a bit late commenting on this.

    As always, Cathy, I enjoy “watching” you work. You are thoughtful, and very artistic, and I like that you use paint to express your poetic and deeply intelligent creativity. I find your blog thought-provoking, especially since my painting raison d’etre is the polar opposite of yours, except for this: I want, just as you do, to express nearly inexpressible feelings.

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