Sunday, December 22, 2019

Overcoming a Discouraging Start

Mark asks: "How do you fix a painting that looks discouragingly bad halfway through?"

Sometimes a painting doesn’t come together right away. Even though I know I’m following the right steps, it starts looking pretty awful, and doubts set in. When that happens I try to push the painting through the “ugly stage” by sheer willpower. I usually trust the process, but if I feel I might be heading down the wrong path, I re-examine my goal and my strategy. Here are some tips that can bring me through the rough stages:
1. Concentrate on one small area, usually a face or a central detail, and get that right.
2. Get a fresh eye by looking at the painting in a mirror, or by turning it upside down.
3. Set the picture aside and work on something else for a while.
4. If there’s a fundamental flaw in the basic start, sponge it off and start again, no regrets.
This will be part of an article coming up in the next International Artist Magazine. 


Timothy Bollenbaugh said...

Great post! #4 (fundamentals) has been a standard for me. Speaking for myself when a project is definably or undefinably awry most always my problem is in my first steps, mostly the layout and palette. I usually resist trying to save it, and quickly start over, focusing on a solid layout and palette...and follow it.
All you've mentioned is equally important.

Bill Marshall said...

And then there's the 'start' that is so wonderful that you begin to doubt your next step, and you begin to feel like you should have embraced abstract impressionism, and concept art when you were in art school! (Sorry, personal experience).

Returning to the strength of good drawing helps me recover from my doubting the outcome.


Susan Krzywicki said...

Love Bill Marshall's comment.