Updated: May 25, 2019
In preparing for our upcoming art show, “New Beginnings” the thought occurred to me that I might have other artwork lying around that could be used besides the paintings I’m preparing just for this exhibit. So I took a little tour around the house and came across this early painting. The subject was perfect ~ what says new beginning like the first adorable flowers of spring?
Unfortunately, the paper was covered in foxing ~ those little or not-so-little rust colored specks that go right through the paper. It was polka-dotted with the ugly things.
I got on the internet and looked up foxing and what to do to get it out of the paper. It all looked so complicated, and the only thing I had on hand was the bleach which was only one step in the process. Would just that first step do it? How much of the watercolor would fade?
Was I willing to risk it for this one show? I certainly didn’t have time to get it back from a conservator before Friday. It was one of only two early watercolors I have left, and I’ve always been fond of it ~ it would grieve me to lose it.
After the agony of deliberation, I decided to give it a try. After all, it was ruined as it was, and by the time I got it to a conservator, it might be too late to save it anyway. The foxing was already all the way through the paper.
So I did it ~ I took the plunge. I prepared a pan of water with a small amount of bleach and submersed my darling little painting. After soaking for almost two hours, the stains were still there, so I left the studio for lunch, telling myself not to stay too long. At that point the colors were still strong.
Of course you know I got involved in a book and forgot all about my little painting sitting in the tub of bleach solution. When I got back to the studio, the first thing that I saw were my little crocuses, just starting to bleed out purple. I rushed the painting to the sink and dumped the water from the pan, rinsing it while holding the painting, worrying about the bleeding watercolor. It was only a tiny amount, but it was clearly starting to run. I filled the pan with rinse water and gently floated the painting, flipping it over. I did it twice more with fresh pans of water. At that point the bleeding had rinsed away. How much of the color would remain once the painting dried?
The drying process was accomplished with less stress, thankfully.
You can see the result. The colors are once again as bright as when it was freshly painted, and the paper is truly white. There is no purple even though that’s how the photo appears. I’m not sure the camera knew what to do with those intensely purple flowers.
I think you’ll agree that this painting has experienced its own New Beginning.
One day we’ll be wearing white, and our true colors will shine. Until then, we take it by faith that our stains have been washed away. We have value and beauty and serve a purpose ~ each of us designed by the hands of the one who created us for his good pleasure.