If you’re an artist, you probably have a large stack of paintings that don’t measure up to your standards. The longer you paint, the more this becomes a difficult thing to deal with. I learn something from every painting I do and my skills continue to grow accordingly. As artists, we are the keepers of our creative destiny and get to decide what to keep and what to toss.
- I’ve read about painters that save all of their “failed” artwork and use it to create a bonfire every few years because the paintings don’t live up the artist’s own quality guidelines and they feel that this would degrade the scope of their over-all work.
- I know artists who never sell their work because they feel that a piece of their soul is tied up in the piece.
- Sometimes I’m just gobsmacked when a piece of art I really didn’t like sells quickly, and the prints from that painting continue to sell, consistently. Over time, I’ve learned that what I like and what someone else likes won’t necessarily be the same thing. Over that, I still shake my head sometimes, and that brings me to my next point.
- Someone somewhere is going to love that painting that I just can’t stand. Every painting exists as part of my body of work, as part of my artistic journey. I learn at least one thing from every painting that I create. I’ve only destroyed one painting, and I regret it. It wasn’t finished, and at that time, I didn’t think I could do anything with it. I had fallen in love with a stone wall in Kainaliu and taken a picture to paint just before an earthquake took it down, and here it is. This photo is the only proof that this painting ever existed.
And, I regret it. This was very early painting days for me. I put a lot of time into this painting. I outlined each individual rock in black. What did I learn from this painting? So much.
- That I could lose myself in my work
- Never lose track of the big picture
- Paint things that move you
- Rocks are never entirely one color
- Get the entire canvas covered with paint before you make any major decisions about a painting.
- Don’t outline rocks in black!
- Things are never as bad as you think they are
Now, I could have done so much with this painting and turn it into something spectacular. I may paint it again someday because I still love the wall.
So tell me. If you’re an artist, what do you do with your “failed” or what you consider sub-par paintings?