I hope you are well and safe from the storms that seem to be hitting everybody this winter. Snow, rain, tornados. We had all sorts of crazy thunderstorms yesterday evening. I don’t think we had any storms all summer that matched the ones we had yesterday. Weird stuff.
This has been a tough week. Why is it that you can go along just fine for a fairly extended amount of time and then, “BAM”, everything seems to go sideways all at once? In the spirit of truth, let’s just discuss failure. You know, the stuff that doesn’t make it onto social media. All the beautiful photos, but behind the camera is huge pile of dirty laundry, kid toys and cat puke.
Last week I worked and worked on two paintings. Hours of my life put into them. By Friday I was realizing one is probably a complete failure and one is definitely not working the way I wanted it to. Generally I do not do artwork on the weekend and I hoped that by Monday I could figure out a way to save them. Nope. No such luck. By Monday afternoon I also realized that a life situation wasn’t looking too good either. Monday was super Mondayish. It was one of those days that would have been better spent in the bed with the covers over my head.
The featured artwork above has been my mood all week. Tuesday I hurried through my morning chores to get in the studio and pour out the angst in the drawing. I do not consider myself an abstract artist at all, but there is some serious therapy in just drawing or painting emotions. I believe it’s Betty Edwards’ “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” that goes into how much humans can understand just from an expressive drawn line. I imagine that musicians and dancers can work out their demons in a similar manner.
So here are the paintings or parts of them that may disappear soon. The horse’s head is workable, but the back end of the horse that I’m not showing you (I just can’t bring myself to look at it here) is a hot mess. Horses are my nemesis (“the inescapable agent of someone’s or something’s downfall” – perfect definition!) even though I have four live models outside my window. I probably have 4 or 5 more horse paintings planned. Talk about self abuse!
Now the sheep are in the gray area. This is the second time I have done a painting of these sheep. The first one went in the trash. This one is better, but still not matching the vision in my head. By the way, this one was titled “The Gossips,” years ago when I took the reference photos. My skill with oil paint just isn’t there yet. It may just turn into a drawing so that I can move on.
So, what do I do about failures? I would love to hear what you do to get through them. There is no sugar coating them. They feel awful and maybe we can help each other through it.
Yesterday I started a great big (well, big for me and the available space) new painting that will either work out or I will fail at it in flying colors AND I started a new drawing. Drawing is my happy place and my safe place. I know how to work a pencil and charcoal. I also don’t agonize over trashing a drawing because the supplies don’t cost so dang much. So basically I am forcing myself back on the horse in a manner, but with a slightly safer subject to build skills and confidence in my painting. The drawing is to sooth my tortured soul. I can go into that wonderful place called FLOW and lose all track of time. My brain is on auto pilot and not beating myself up for failing.
As far as the life situation goes, the drawing process is a salve until I know what to do. Part of it is in my control, but a good bit of it is totally out of my control. It will not be easily fixed and it is not something I feel I can walk away from as tempting as it is right now. I guess the human reaction is to run from hurt, but the spirit needs to find the strength to walk through the muck to the other side. If you are dealing with failures, just know you aren’t alone. We all project the pretty pictures to the world, but we need to clean up the cat puke.
Hang in there and have a good week!