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.
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.
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.