Let’s face it, if you’ve been an artist for any length of time, you will inevitably create some bad paintings. Crap is the professional term. (Just kidding.) Not everything that comes off your easel, your brush, from your pencil is wonderful. Actually, few pieces of art fit that description.
I remember when I was first getting back to my art roots after several years’ hiatus that I sat at the kitchen table one night and created a cute little flower painting. It was pink, I think. I was so proud of that piece. When I showed it to my husband, he said, “Oh, that’s nice, honey.” Such a sweet supportive liar but I certainly needed the boost to my ego.
I kept that painting for years, long after I realized what a wreck it was. I would drag it out when teaching a class and point to it and say, “See, this is where I came from. You can learn to paint, too.” I have searched the studio for the piece as I would definitely show it but can’t locate it. I’m sure that I never threw it away.
The point is, that we do the best we can with the skills we have at the time. When you know better, you do better. I have painted plenty of really BAD paintings. And still do, although not quite so many.
So what do you do with a piece of art that just didn’t turn out the way that you wanted? Here are several options.
Examine the piece carefully and determine just what you are unhappy with. The color, subject matter, composition, execution, the method of painting, etc.?
Ask yourself if there is some way to correct the mistake? Not all mediums can be corrected but many can.
Ask a friend for input. Sometimes we know something is off but just can’t see the mistake although it may be glaring to some new eyes.
Scrape off the paint or paint over the mistake. You may even need to paint over the entire canvas. I have done this many times and just started over. Or even explore a new idea rather the one you were pursuing.
Trash it. Burn it, destroy it. Some people recommend that you keep your bad work to inspire you but I think it will only haunt you. Use it as a learning experience and move on. It can be very cathartic to throw your canvases into the burn barrel. I’ve had very few regrets over many years.
One thing that I don’t recommend is to donate the bad artwork. It may come back to haunt you as when someone picks it up a resale shop or flea market. And don’t pawn it off on your friends and relatives. They’ll be too polite to tell you and will resent moving it around from place to place over the years.
Finally, don’t stress about a bad painting. It happens. That’s OK. We learn from our mistakes and just promise yourself that you’ll do better next time. It’s only a painting, after all.
I had the great pleasure of hand delivering my painting Bread to my friend Miriam. She was so delighted to be able to buy this. “Making this bread was the best experience of my time during the COVID pandemic.” Miriam used my bread recipe for no-touch sourdough bread. I heard back from so many friends and blog followers that they loved this recipe.
July Fourth has always had a special meaning for me. Far beyond the picnics and bands, the fireworks and family gatherings. There is just something about the holiday here in the United States which makes me proud and excites my sensibilities.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a marching band in person or even a fireworks display, although I love both of those things. The big booms reverberate in my chest all the way to my toes.
And I love the family gatherings. In our case, not quite reunions but a group of friends and relatives who show up to spend a pleasant day in the country. This year is especially poignant since we haven’t seen many of these folks for over a year.
The kids will run around, sneak blackberries from the bushes, and whine about when they’re going to eat. The adults will swap tales and events. And the young men will regale everyone with some awesome fireworks. (Fortunately, we’re not in the super dry western states where fireworks are banned these days.)
But I often reflect on the meaning of the day. Independence Day. The declaration of our split from our English heritage and ruler, King George. What a chance our founding fathers took! What moxy! What great beginnings, too. I wonder what they’d think of the form of government they started nearly two and a half centuries ago. Would they be proud? Astonished? Perplexed? Maybe all three.
I hope that you have a great day, an enjoyable day, and perhaps can reflect on the meaning of this special day here in the United States. Be kind. Be safe.
SUPER SUMMER SALE, JULY ONLY! 40 – 70% off! Normally I have a studio sale every autumn and invite friends and locals out to my studio for some super sale items. Feed them my famous minestrone soup, desserts, wine, etc. A real party for everyone plus they can get some great bargains. Since I couldn’t do that last year, I am offering a SUPER SUMMER SALE of select items just for JULY. They will be priced at 40 to 70% off and new items will be added every day. Some items will even be reduced over the month. Check back often for new SUPER deals. As always, FREE SHIPPING.
I'm a professional artist, retired director of a performing arts center, bona fide book addict, and enjoy the quiet life...most of the time. I'd love to hear from you or get your ideas for future posts. Come back soon!