Tag Archives: bad painting

What to do with a bad painting

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.

  1. Examine the piece carefully and determine just what you are unhappy with.  The color, subject matter, composition, execution, the method of painting, etc.? 
  2. Ask yourself if there is some way to correct the mistake?  Not all mediums can be corrected but many can.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 

Demonic Easter Bunny

Demonic Easter Bunny, original painting, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8, Kit Miracle He didn’t quite turn out the way I planned.

Let me preface this post by saying it is not to disparage the Easter holiday, religion, or bunnies.  It is more a tale of bad painting.

I purchased this cute little Easter Bunny at an antique store.  It’s not an antique but certainly a mid-century collectible.  I’m always scouring thrift shops and antique stores for subjects for still lifes.  I have a whole cupboard in my studio.  You’ll often see the same items in more than one still life.

This little toy rabbit is vinyl, has lost its squeaker and most of its paint, and is a bit sticky.  I guess it would be after 50 or 60 years.  Well-loved, anyway.

The is the vintage Easter Bunny toy that I used as my subject for the painting. He’s very well-loved but cute. Not quite the way the final painting turned out.

I was taking a break this past winter from working on my big series paintings to paint some seasonal items.  These are sold in my Etsy shops and a couple of local gift shops.  They’re a good diversion from the “hard” work.  So I thought this cute little bunny would be the perfect subject.

Unfortunately, things did not turn out the way I planned.

It seemed the more I worked on the painting, the worse he looked.  Which just goes to show you that effort does not always equal success.  I should know. 

So I hid him away in my studio.  But later showed him to my son who was visiting.  He laughed and loved it.  Said it has a demonic look to the eyes.  (Whaaaaa???)  And that the granddaughter would love it.  She has his quirky sense of humor.  Guess it runs in the family.

So a sincere Happy Easter to all my friends and fans out there.  And for those of you who share an off-kilter sense of humor, I present this little Demonic Easter Bunny to you.