Artists know that we can really mess up big-time. Sometimes we just have a miserable painting day.
And it happens much more frequently than we’d like to admit.
The other day I decided to attack a painting that I had done several years ago. While the painting was pleasant to look at and interesting to a lot of people, it lacked what I would like to see my work represent. In other words, it lack the wow factor.
I looked at the painting for a long time, I realized I hated the design. I kind of liked the colors. I found the figure was fairly well done, but it was overall just pedestrian.
In retrospect, I should’ve taken photos of the painting throughout the whole course of the day to document all the stupid decisions that I made.
To start, I thought the figure was rather lonely so I enlarged the figure. When she still didn’t have a life, I gave her a partner. That didn’t work, so I added another figure. But three figures weren’t any better than one smaller one. So I kept on doing what I tell people not to do – rework some things without really thinking about the design, the shapes, and the color.
There was no sense of movement left. I should have just left it or gessoed over it so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.
But now I still had paint on my palate, my water wasn’t terribly dirty, and I wasn’t at a point of true exhaustion. So now I sit staring at a painting that is a whole lot worse than the original. I am kicking myself. I know I will paint over it and be frustrated again. I never learn.
Having said all that, I do understand that failure is part of the learning process. Some attempts are never meant to succeed. I still wish I had the presence of mind to photograph the whole process. Time sometimes lets those closed doors open again. New insights?
Old work sometimes includes little gems one can build on. But if it is all painted over it is gone.