Painting is a journey. Sometimes a really bad one where everything goes wrong, and you end up hauling your dead grandmother around on the top of your car like Chevy Chase in a National Lampoon Family Vacation movie. The only positive thing I can say about this particular art journey is that no grandmothers died in the process.
What’s ironic here is that Karin’s message to the artist’s this week was about how we’re often our own worst critics. We think that perfectly good paintings suck, while other paintings we hate are sometimes our most popular images. I usually feel I’m pretty good at knowing when a painting sucks, and this one REALLY did. At least, I’m pretty sure it did.
Here are a few shots taken along the way:
The underpainting was done loosely with acrylics and a big brush. Then I did the drawing in pen, and started the house and sky in oils. I liked the underpainting so much I almost didn’t want to draw on it.
At this point, I LOVED this painting! Absolutely loved it. Even my husband gave it an enthusiastic, “WOW! That is SO cool!” as he walked in the door from work. I was sure it would be one of my best, ever.
Here some color has been scrubbed on to the house. I’m keeping it as thin as possible so the underpainting shows throught. Still loving it. Maybe I’ll make those swirls in the foreground into a twisted tree!
Hmmm…. I’m not loving what is happening to the shadows on the house. So I pack on a little more paint… and make it worse as I lose the underpainting under the thick pigment…
Okay, that’s a little better. I saved it from a small disaster and I’m not ready to throw it across the room just yet.
Oh, no! Why did I do that? I covered up the rest of the underpainting with the street, and lost the vitality that was happening there! I’m also not loving that tall shrub on the left. It’s so… dark. And green. The worse it gets, the more paint I have to slap on to correct it, and that makes it worse still.
Maybe the streetlight will help brighten that dark hole of a space where the bush is…
Yeah, I guess it did brighten that area, but I don’t like it. I now have three light sources competing for attention, and my eye doesn’t know where to look first. The painting has become very busy, a jumbled mess of elements.
I give up! This one is toast! Bye, bye, ugliness. I’m going to do another one, this time in daylight, like the reference. That way I can just “copy” the reference photo without making any big changes, and breeze right through it.
I won’t bore you with the gory details, but I got this far, and decided to toss it. I’m reminded of sticks of butter capped by Pepto Bismol. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
And why does my tower always insist on leaning? I try so hard to keep it vertical, yet not matter what I do, it leans to the right.
By now it’s Wednesday afternoon, and the deadline to submit this to Karin’s blog is tonight. In desperation, I turn back to the original painting, thinking if I just crop it, I might be able to salvage something by getting rid of one of those light sources. Cropping is easy, because I haven’t mounted the paper to the panel yet.
I actually like both of those! Maybe the individual elements didn’t suck as much as the jumbled whole.
Maybe I will still crop it so I’ll have something to sell, but for now, I need to get something sent to Karin ASAP. So, after much indecision, I’m going with the original version. Which is like going on a two week vacation and returning home exhausted, poorer, but a little wiser. And that’s what painting is about, right? Learning a little something every time so that the next one will be better.
(Cue Lindsay Buckingham “Holiday Road.” God, I love this song! Did you see Linday’s recent solo tour? He’s still got it!)