Garden Roses, July – Oil on panel, 7 by 5 inches
At auction until Thursday 18th July, 2019
Failure is an inevitable part of life.
It’s certainly an inevitable part of an artist’s life.
If your’e doing anything that you really care about, that gives your life much of its meaning, then feeling that you’ve come up short can be devastating.
It might be unpleasant to live through when it happens, but it’s also a sign, very often, that growth is happening.
Because as long as you don’t allow it to actually stop you working, you can use it as fuel to move you forward.
If you can get back up, pick up your brushes, squeeze out some paint and try again, then failure can have a positive side.
But I don’t think it happens just by doing.
I felt like that before I started this painting because the one that came just before it didn’t work out – despite spending a lot of time on it and (I thought) trying very hard to make a good piece of work.
To come back from that I had to spend a lot of time thinking, some time writing (writing out my thoughts helps me work through them) and then some more time thinking before I thought I knew what I had to do to move forward.
I took it slow at first. This painting is small, but still took me longer than most of my small paintings.
There were a few things I decided to do before I started:
- Make sure the value balance for the whole painting was established at the start.
- Work as slowly as I needed to to be satisfied with what I was doing – no auto-pilot painting.
- Try hard not to leave any part of the painting I wasn’t satisfied with for the sake of getting it finished.
- Be careful to paint the internal colour relationships of the flowers as accurately as I could.
- See it as an experiment in working method, rather than an attempt to make a finished piece of work.
Given that I deliberately set out not to make a finished painting, it’s a little ironic that this one came out better than many other paintings I’ve done recently. Since I could see that was happening from about half way through, I took it further than I’d originally intended and finished it.
It was like a gasp of air to a drowning man. I began to see a way forward and to believe again that I have a right to be here, doing this and calling myself a painter.
I know. It probably seems silly. But when you give something everything you have, and when you’re taking a leap into the unknown – as I think we always do when we start a painting – then it’s perhaps natural to lose a bit of perspective sometimes.
And perhaps it’s not always a bad thing.
Perhaps that loss of perspective and the pain that comes with it can be a meaningful part of the learning process, and a spur to move on to better things.
Best wishes and thanks for reading,
The Keys to Colour - Free 6 step email course
Learn how to:
- mix any colour accurately
- see the value of colours
- lighten or darken a colour without messing it up
- paint with subtle, natural colour