Thursday, March 20, 2014

When It Doesn't Work

Already this year I've had the discouraging experience of spending over 6 weeks on painting only to realize it just wasn't going to work. All the planning and design work sometimes goes swirling down and out of sight like a wad of dirty toilet paper. The frustration of realizing the painting wasn't going to ever be what I wanted was compounded by knowing I'd wasted so much time trying desperately to make it work. The more time I had invested in the piece, the more I felt I needed to make it work... and the problems seemed to multiply from there.
This is by no means the first time I've thrown a clunker. In most cases, I just put a painting away for a while and come back to it later to reassess and perhaps attempt to save the piece with fresh eyes. Other pieces seem to somehow be flawed from the moment I start putting down paint and are destined to be sanded down and re-gessoed for another try. Then there are the projects that are nothing more than a thorn in my side and the most therapeutic way to deal with them is a large fire in the back yard!
It's not easy to talk about these failures. Sure, we can say things like we learn more from our failures than successes... blah blah blah. I don't buy that. At least not with my paintings. The painting I spoke of at the beginning of this post was a 20x40 mule deer piece I intended to use as my marquee piece at an upcoming show. Failures like this leave me kicking chairs and throwing paint brushes. 6 weeks is a lot of time to spend slaving away with nothing to show for it. I don't seem to learn anything from that!

2 clunkers and 1 new panel, all back to "square one"
So today, while prepping a board for a painting I need to start for a looming deadline, I sanded and gessoed 2 of those damned clunkers that have been leaning against the studio wall. With a fresh new surface and endless possibilities, these failures have been given a chance at new life. It was a good day... and I didn't even have to start a fire.

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