The other day, I had what I felt was a set back.
I had decided I wanted to get a couple of paintings done in time for a deadline to be juried into a show. I had worked very hard in the time I had to try to get them finished, and of course, I had the usual distractions and things that forced me away from my work. Each distraction heightened my stress level (and my grumpiness), but I was determined to get at least one piece done. See how I went from two, to at least one?
Well, I was closing in on getting one of them done, thinking maybe I can still get in the other one in, too. But when I sat back, after feeling like I had resolved some major issues with it, and took another critical look, I realized that I was not actually very happy with how it had turned out at all. Sure, I liked parts of the painting quite a bit. But the different parts didn’t fit together. It was like I had at least 2 different styles of painting in the same piece. Plus, I just couldn’t get the depth to work in a few areas. Frankly, it was pissing me off.
I felt like giving up. I was starting to loathe my painting. I had thought that I had these issues figured out, but clearly, I still have a lot to learn. “Failure!,” that voice in the back of my mind screeched at me.
It was at this point that I had to re-evaluate whether it was worth the stress to get this picture done in time for the show. I had pretty much ruined my weekend, and I realized that I would not have attempted these paintings had I not wanted to get something into the gallery for this particular show. I had rushed my ideation and design to respond to the call because the deadline had been extended and I felt that I ‘should’ give it a try. I also knew, that if I didn’t like the way it had turned out, there was no way a jury was going to like it either.
I decided to step back and give myself a break. I messaged a friend who gave me an honest critique, and we figured out what needed to be worked on and possibly how it could be done. But I also decided to give up on trying to make the deadline. The idea of working on that painting right then did not fill me with joy, but rather tension, and I felt that in that state it would be hard to fix the painting’s problems.
The painting is still sitting on my easel. I have been playing with some journal pages and ATC’s in order to get back the joy again. Part of me wants to, in a bit of time, give a go at fixing it, and I wonder if I will. Either that, or it will end up joining the esteemed group of paintings I have not been able to work out – or have given up on – that have accumulated in my home.
I think I have learned some valuable lessons from this little drama. First of all, when I only have a short time to complete something, I have to really evaluate whether it is something I want to stress over. If it is, is it also something that I know I can work with my strengths and experience to complete? Is it something that I would do even if there was no call for this particular theme? If it is not, then I should probably leave well enough alone.
I have also learned that I can actually paint a not bad imitation of a warm stone wall and window. Haha. In the end, with self reflection and awareness, what started out as a crappy thing, turned into a positive learning experience.
It has also made me curious, dear reader, if you are an artist, how you would have dealt with this same situation. Would you have powered through the stress and tried to get the piece done anyway in time for the show? Would you eventually go back to the painting and either work through the issues, or repaint the parts that were not working? Or would you gesso over the whole thing and do something entirely different?
Let me know in the comments below. Any sage advice is welcome!
In the meantime, I wish you a joyous New Year. May 2019 be the best one yet!