inauspicious beginnings?

Hi all,

OK, since this is a blog for the amateur, I should really include little failures as well as successes. So here goes. Since the new year I have been obsessing over a new painting of a snow scene from a great photo taken by my husband. It is a little larger a canvas (40 x 80 cm) and the scene a little less “dramatic” than my usual. Just some trees in a snowy forest really. Still, I had (have?) reason to hope it could be turned, by my hand, into something reposeful and pleasant to look at. My sketch and base layer of paint looked, I must say, really good. My husband was taken by my early efforts and kept telling my how much he liked it and even showed our family back home by Skype (I don’t like that – nobody should look and comment on paintings till they are DONE). Anyhow, I was suspicious. It is my experience that things that start off way better than usual tend to head south. I was right.

original photo by my DH
original photo by my DH

Last Wednesday I hit a bit of a dead-end with the painting and saw no easy way out. After some desperate attempts at quick and easy fixes and some histrionics, I came to terms that there was no quick way out that would lead to a finished product that I would like. So I did what I have not done in a long time – I painted over a canvas – a week’s worth of work. Not a big deal, but annoying/discouraging all the same.

Ugly paint baby at time just prior of being painted over. Don't tell me you liked it, I may freak out.
Ugly paint baby at time just prior of being painted over. Don’t tell me you liked it, I may freak out.

This leads me to wonder, do people who really know what they are doing end up painting over their own canvases out of frustration or simply not knowing how to proceed? If I had an art teacher would she kick me in the backside for wasting so much time or giving up too easily? Am I too focused on the end result and not enough on the “journey”? Maybe. At least I did not give up completely. Instead of chucking the already paint-thick canvas into my storage room I decided I would start over and stick with it.

After a few hissy fits and false starts with the painted-over canvas, I am happy to say I am back on the path. It is slow going and I sadly have lost some of the initial enthusiasm, but get done it will. It may be awhile folks. But it will be pretty sweet when it IS done (and hopefully is half decent). A small triumph of sorts. It will mean an inauspicious beginning to the year’s painting would actually be a valuable lesson learned. That’s makes for a pretty good start… I guess.

Thanks for putting up with my moaning. Wishing you a happy new week

Sunday trip to the outstanding Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne. Awesome model of the railroad though the Gotthard Pass. A good way to forget about the painting back home.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. polynom1al says:

    The value of the art is so different to different people. For the beer I make the journey is only part of it, the meditative piece of spending all day schlepping heavy stuff around, lots of steam and great smells. The patience required for some of the longer fermentations. But the biggest part is sharing it with others and seeing their joy in getting to taste an awesome beer. I wonder if for painting it’s the same. For what it’s worth I’ve dumped lots of beer I’m not proud of down the drain. Some of it after spending months in fermentation. Don’t be so hard on yourself about the failure unless you also failed to learn from it. (: thanks for sharing the thought process behind the art, it is really enjoyable to read.

    1. Editor says:

      Thanks for this – is good to know that others struggle and sometimes just plain ole’ fall on their face with their art. As for your brewing, I imagine stakes are even higher for a bad batch than a bad canvas (time and material costs for a start). Brewing sounds both meditative and social though (you have a brewing partner, I believe) and it must be extremely satisfying to have your beer out there now, being enjoyed by others. It is awesome knowing people like you and vicki who make your art/craft such a huge part of your life, and pursue it fearlessly and with such generosity and joy. Anyhow, thanks for the kind words and I look forward to some dat trying a frosty cold one from Brisbane Brewery Co.!

  2. heather says:

    Love it – I had a similar issue earlier this week and have a painted over canvas sitting in the kitchen right now. 🙂 I got a ‘but I liked that, why did you cover it up’ from someone, ugh. We’re definitely our own worst critics!

    1. Editor says:

      Sorry to hear of your painted over canvas, but a bit relieved to hear of others that go through that too sometimes. Oh! the “But I liked it!!!” So well intentioned, but so annoying all the same. Its true about the being our worst critics thing, but if it were up to purely the stated opinions of our loved ones, we would all have delusions of grandeur (; btw, keep up your awesome 30 paintings journey. Its fun following your progress!

  3. Tim says:

    Try not to be too hard on yourself. But I agree that ugly paint baby needed to be covered up. Just kidding, I didn’t think it looked that bad. Looking forward to seeing the final product.

    1. Editor says:

      Tim!! I love seeing you around here, even if its only to taunt me. New one up tomorrow – an altogether less ugly paint baby.

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