A Lesson Learned...AKA "Sometimes, I paint sunburnt alien babies."

Hi artists and art lovers. If you're a regular reader, by now you know I'm nothing if not authentic. And tonight, I'm authentically out of sorts, which is making me extra irritated, because in the broader view of my world, I have everything to be happy about! I'm about to begin the biggest and most exciting travels I've ever experienced...I'm heading to Arkansas in a week or so for a full workshop and just a few weeks after that I'm traveling to Italy where I will explore Rome, Tuscany, Venice and Florence and teach a 5 day workshop. Shortly after that I'm teaching a three day workshop at the amazing Scottsdale Artists' School in Arizona and then another full workshop in Pennsylvania. (Click here to sign up!) Not only are my workshops filling, but my work is selling! I just sent home my beautiful "Turquesa". She's now proudly on display at my collectors office. So there you have it. I have absolutely no room to complain!!! But...

"Turquesa" 36x18 inches, Sold

"Turquesa" 36x18 inches, Sold

I've been working on a small painting, just one little face on a 9x12 canvas. Something I'd really like to finish in time to enter into a competition, but nothing particularly complicated. None-the-less, I've wiped out not once but three times. I've focused no less than 18 hours already on this little project and have produced nothing but a ton of paint smeared paper towels and three small ruined canvases. 

So why am I blogging about my failed attempts? Every now and then people say to me that they wish they could paint like me and I imagine they think that means I just sprinkle rainbows and glitter on my canvas and a masterpiece appears. Here's the reality of what it takes to make (or try to make) great work. 

Every time I wipe off a canvas I consider the work I've just removed as a study. And I do, before I wipe the canvas clean, I study it to see just what it is I did wrong. Then I wipe it clean so I don't have to look at it anymore and so I can eventually reuse that canvas. Now, my vanity will not allow me to show you any of the photos I took of the disastrous attempts, but I will describe my process in hopes it may help someone else some day. 

Failed Canvas No.1...(Imaging an alien baby.)
I should have known it wasn't going to work. I have a large partially finished commissioned work on my main easel. I didn't want to move it (don't ask my why), so I set up my little Strada easel and rolled my desk chair over to it. I had two lopsided stools with my brushes and solvent perched on them. I was not ergonomically advantaged, you could say. My crooked back and my rickety set up didn't help me with my drawing. Nothing related to anything else. Lesson No. 1: Be comfortable. It took me another try before I really learned lesson No. 1 and moved the large piece so I could stand at my regular set up.

Failed Canvas No. 2...(Imagine a sunburnt alien baby.)
I was so irritated that I had already wasted an entire day on a painting that should take two days at most, that I thought, I'm not going to mix new paint, I'll use the same palette from the day before. I'm going to get this done. And I did... I got the whole thing done and fast. And it was awful. It was hot mess. My temperatures were all over the place and focusing on making the drawing perfect left me with horrible tight edges. Lesson No. 2: Don't rush!

Failed Canvas No. 3... In actuality, there were moments when I really fell in love with today's work. But I was already doubting myself because of numbers 1 and 2, so I over worked it and killed it dead. My son said he liked it and couldn't see why I wiped it off. Lesson No. 3: Be confident. 
"If there is one thing in this world that can stop you, it is you." — Artist Tina Garrett (Yes, you can quote me.)  

Now what: I was hoping if I blogged about this tonight, I would magically know what to do tomorrow. And I think it worked. I'm going to stretch my best canvas, take my time mixing a new palette and steadily bring this baby's face to light one brush stroke at a time. You'll see it on Facebook! (And if not...then at least there will be a lesson learned.)