Entries Tagged as 'failure'

Cursed Canvases

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cursed Canvas

Okay, so sometimes my painting efforts flop completely. Every so often, a canvas comes along that just seems cursed. Much like those sad locations in town that host one failed business venture after another, these canvases hold legacies of misery. This cursed canvas has been hanging around awhile, luring me into attempting various bad paintings on its surface, and here it is today, before I foolishly start working on it again. You can see the previous painting, which was also awful, behind the current layer. And even from a distance, the textured brush strokes from the prior image come through like tacky panty lines. This canvas is a Bermuda Triangle for my artistic confidence; any sense of creative self-esteem disappears the moment I start working on it again.

I should definitely throw it away, but over the years I’ve made a commitment to seeing every painting through, somehow, to an image I can live with. So, I won’t let it go. I feel certain it has something to offer me, teach me, something it will reveal, if only I keep revisiting it now and then, saying hi, and painting badly on its pockmarked surface. Since failure is inevitable, I am free to paint clumsily, weirdly, without caution. I can paint through funky energy, grit, despair, and desperation. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t found a lot of places in life to safely and freely express these energies, especially as a “professional adult.” I guess there’s always loud music and moshing, but that’s not my thing.  There just aren’t many places we are free to flail and fail.

My continued attempts here are like reserving a seat at the table for failure, for what is ugly and deeply flawed. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so this is a practice; I really didn’t want to show this to you. But who knows? Maybe eventually I can transform this canvas into something ugly but loved, worth hanging onto and possibly hanging up–not because it is a great painting, but because it bears the inevitable stories and scars behind a commitment to process.

Summer Bloom

Monday, September 29, 2014

Summer Bloom
36″ x 48″

 I left town for the weekend in despair over this painting, the colors in disharmony. My nine-year old nephew Mason had declared the piece a failure. “I don’t like the petals or the leaves,” he said, in a statement that condemned most of the painting. “The colors are wrong, too,” he added, not at all apologetically.

I agreed, but I didn’t know what to do; I couldn’t see where it needed to go next. The thought of the dumpster occurred, and possibly setting down my brushes for good. When these thoughts come, I usually just need a little space from the work. So I took it, and tried not to worry that I’d lost the touch and would perhaps never paint again.

When I returned from my trip, I approached the painting with fresh energy. As I worked, the flowers changed, and changed some more, and then, like a camera coming into clear focus, I found the right balance and the painting clicked into place.

Rarely is it my instinct to step away and give the important things in my life the time and space to ripen. I’ve been told I was impatient from the start, eager to grow up, eager to get on with it, whatever it was. However, the natural world takes its own time, and cannot be forced. The same is true of healing, and art, and the great unknowns of the long horizons of our lives. So I need the reminders–that life and its natural unfolding can be trusted.

This painting gave me that reminder.

When I give time and space to a process, I just might be met by a bloom.

Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie