Two hours of work and all I have to show for it is a blank canvas. After wiping out two failed paintings I begin to wonder how other artists deal with work when it fails. My work is small, simple and I’m at my easy or sketch board every day so the sting of failure doesn’t hit me too hard but I worry about the future where I begin to take my work into more grand areas.
The First of the Failed Paintings
My first thought today was to re-paint a still life item from when I started my daily painting journey almost three years ago. I chose this little sand castle keepsake and spend some time setting up a still life that could resemble a landscape.
The drawing went well but after the initial lay-in of paint I knew right away I wasn’t liking it. But in my experience I have found that all paintings go through a period in there production where they look terrible but have the scaffolding for a good piece. After an hour of work on this painting I sat back and realized that it may turn around with another hour or two of work, but I just didn’t have the motivation to go through with it. This painting just wasn’t working for me, so I wiped it out.
Now that I look at the photo of it, its doesn’t look too bad, but there motivation is still not there so I’m still comfortable with chalking it up as a failed painting.
Why do I think this painting was a failure? Simply because I didn’t like it nor did I like where it was going and I think that is ok. If I was planning a very large painting I know I would do many preliminary sketches of the subject before every putting my brush to the larger canvas. So, I will consider this failed painting as one of those preliminaries.
The Second of the Failed Paintings
I believe this painting failed for an entirely different reason and in retrospect it seems obvious that this painting would fail.
I decided to paint a figure from a black and white photo reference that I have. I have always liked this reference photo and have drawn from it multiple times. It’s a very elegant female figure with distinct value shapes. This was probably the best part of my decision to paint this as the distinct value shapes “should” be easier to paint. My downfall was in trying something new along with the prospect of painting a figure, which I haven’t done in a long while.
I had this “brilliant” idea to not use black and mix my own dark color and while mixing I could decide if I wanted it warm or cool. The problem is that I didn’t mix a large pile of color and I ended up try to re-match my original dark multiple times, the painting began to look like a patchwork of warm and cool colors all over the place. Plus the Davinci canvas board really sucks, its way too slick even after some light sanding and I couldn’t lay down any brush stroke without the bristles cutting through the painting and leaving lines.
Needless to say the whole process was frustrating, so off to the pile of failed paintings you go. I wiped this painting out also. This was the end of my painting session today, I was planning to do some sketching but my heart just wasn’t into it.
Yeah I’m still not happy with how this painting was looking, I made good decision to end it.
Here is a great post about viewing your failed drawing in a new light. I read the learning to see blog quite often and I would recommend it to any artist that need help with motivation and learning to draw.