They can't all be masterpieces day 11 of 30 paintings in 30 days.

They Can’t All Be Masterpieces Day 11 Of 30 Paintings In 30 Days

When you are painting every single day, you do the best you can, but at some point you realize all of your paintings can’t be masterpieces. I wrote a few days ago about having a few paintings that I didn’t think were good enough to add to my series. This Labrador is one of them.

They can't all be masterpieces day 11 of 30 paintings in 30 days.
Black Lab

I think my first problem was the pose. Black labs have this velvety, uniform coloring so in photographs all of the shapes sort of blend together. It’s really difficult to get any good lines drawn when you are looking at the dog head-on. It would have been better to do a profile portrait. My second problem was using the same color too much. I should have started with brown and layered the dark gray over it just to give his face more definition and to trick the eye by using different colors to push parts of his face back and other parts forward.

On another day I decided to attempt a mixed media piece using photographs from the Lap Dog Rescue of New Mexico website. I thought these two dogs (Taco and Sherman) were adorable, but their pictures weren’t clear enough for me to paint from so I decided to use the photographs directly in the piece.

They can't all be masterpieces Day 11 of 30 Days of Painting
Fur Babies

Well, I just love this type of mixed media painting. The problem is I am not very good at it. I’ve been experimenting all year with this style and getting mixed results at best. It’s not where my strength lies, but it is where my heart lies. So, sometimes I feel like I am trying to win someone over that just doesn’t like me. You know how when you find out someone you really respect (or think is cool) doesn’t really like you (or notice you) so you keep trying to get their attention or doing things to win them over? Kind of like a teenage girl with a crush? Kind of like the plot to all of those really bad teenage dramas we used to love to watch? Well, I don’t do that so much with people anymore, but mixed media painting? That’s another story. I keep working at it and trying to get it right. It just isn’t happening! The less success I have the more determined I am to conquer the medium. It’s just me being stubborn and wanting to win. I am not winning! I’ve been seriously questioning why I am devoting so much time and love to a medium that clearly does not love me back, but an obsession is an obsession, right? I might take a break from it for a while. Maybe my brain needs some distance from it to work out the kinks. We learn while we are dreaming supposedly, right? I know when I stop trying so hard things usually get a little easier. Besides, now that I have been painting in watercolors and alcohol inks, and having the paintings mostly flow out easily, it’s hard for me to rationalize not painting in the mediums I am good at already. It feels good to be good at something sometimes, doesn’t it?

I showed this particular mixed media piece to both Jim and Tiny-Small. Jim said it was cute, but wasn’t really on the same level as the other dogs in my series. I asked Tiny-Small if she liked it and she simply said, “Nope.” She never lies. Then I consulted with my blogging friend Molly from Grass Oil because she always tells it like it is too. It’s good to have that one person who will tell you the truth about something because most people will just try to be nice. Criticism can be hard to take so it is also important to find that friend that can tell you “this is not your best work” in a constructive, but nice way. Molly does that for me every time. She is an invaluable resource for me.

Well, I wanted to share these with you because I know painting and art sometimes seem like magic because all you see is the end results. You don’t often see the sketches gone wrong or the quantity of practice paintings that evolve into the final paintings or the hours of struggle and stubborn obsession that go into trying to master a medium. There is a lot of failure going on behind the scenes. There are constant challenges and an incredible amount of experimentation going on too. Art is a learning process that takes a big commitment, just like any other job!

Please visit the other 30 in 30 participants and, if you are so inclined, buy some art! It really helps artists feel like they are doing something worthwhile and important when they sell a piece. It also helps them keep painting. Art supplies get expensive. If you can’t afford to buy any art, tell them you wish you could. That kind of encouragement goes a long way too.

Happy Saturday!

12 thoughts on “They Can’t All Be Masterpieces Day 11 Of 30 Paintings In 30 Days”

  1. One of the many things that I absolutely adore about you, Lillian Connelly, is your ability to step back and note the things that you could do better when it comes to your craft. I feel like a proud mama who doesn’t know much about art, and love everything that you do, so I’m probably not good to come to for art constructive criticism (I’m way better with writing and other stuff for that).

    That being said, I’m trying to improve my writing in the same way. I have so many drafts that aren’t published…and even published posts that I go back and think, “not my best work.”

    You’re an inspiration forever.

    Also, just wanted to tell you that I was thinking about you this morning. Even when it’s nasty outside, I wake up to a beautiful landscape, and it’s all thanks to you and your art. So thanks for that. 🙂

    1. Your comment made me think about how we have different types of friends for different reasons. When I talk to you I feel like I have no limits and anything is possible. You help me not give up on my dreams! That is very valuable and very wonderful in a friendship.

      Don’t even get me started on writing. I feel like my grammar gets worse and worse instead of better and better…one thing at a time, right?!

      That makes me so happy about the painting! I am glad it helps get you out of bed on those nasty weather days. I will be smiling all day long thinking about that!

  2. I love this post. I can look at something and think “nope, don’t like that” without having an actual reason that it’s not working for my eyes. I think the way you dissected the reasoning behind WHY they weren’t working is totally genius. Happy Saturday!

    1. I have that nope reaction to things all the time too without always knowing why. Sometimes that is all you need though, right? I wrote this post because of your previous comment. Thanks for helping me brave enough to expose my weaknesses!

  3. I enjoyed reading your post. I don’t think the painting is that bad. The eyes are perfect and the colors with the black were all good choices. Painting a black lab is no small feat! I’m not sure I would have tried it.

    1. I don’t think it is horrible either, but I think I could have done better with a different pose. I think I could have planned better. Sometimes I think I just dive in without considering if what I am about to do is a good idea or not. Painting a black lab was kind of risky, I was just to naive to know it until it was too late!

  4. It may not be your best work, but it sounds like you learned some valuable things for next time. So I’d call it a win. And you know what? The more you play around with the mixed media, the better you’ll get. Not everything has to go in your shop – those can be just for you (for now!)

    1. That is a good way of looking at it. I am pretty sure if I attempted to paint the black lab again I’d do it differently and maybe get better results.

      The mixed media. I probably won’t give up on it yet. I think part of my problem is I am trying to do it like other people instead of just doing my own thing. Maybe if I just let go of the idea that it has to look a certain way it will flow better. I keep buying journals, but I haven’t been very good at keeping an actual art journal. I probably should concentrate on that more and see what happens.

  5. Hey! So I suck and haven’t been reading blogs for weeks it seems but I just caught up on your series and your paintings are so great! Seriously you are really talented with the pet paintings. I should hire you to paint my sister’s dog. She would love that. And I totally agree with the comments above that your honesty and openness about what you do and don’t like about your work is refreshing and inspiring. I can’t believe you are doing one every day. Go girl.

    1. I am so behind on reading blogs it’s not even funny. I know what you mean! Thank you for the encouragement. I can’t believe I am doing one every day either. February 1st I’ll just crash out on the floor in a heap and nap and eat chocolate…haha! I mean, that’s what I would like to have happen, but we both know it’s not likely.

  6. Girl – I LOVE this lab. I think you captured his (her?) eyes beautifully. I can see him dancing in the tall grass, all cotton poufs flying as he pounces in the cat tails. I love it. I also love your pursuit of excellence — not perfection, oui? — in this and all you do. I still say you could turn that fun collage into thank you cards for adopting families. You’re changing lives, Lil. The lives of families who adopt these guys and the lives of those beautiful dogs. There’s not a day that goes by in my inbox right now where I’m not absolutely drawn to what you’ve created now. That Boston Terrier was HOT! It’s all so good. You’re a gift! XOXO -M

    1. Wait until you see the Golden. I have BIG plans for The Murph. Big I tell ya! 🙂

      Thanks for all of the compliments. I am too embarrassed to respond appropriately, but I am smiling! My face actually hurts.

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