A few days ago I wrote about my most recent painting, American Mountains. What I didn’t write about was the failed painting that came just prior. You would usually never hear about an artist’s failed paintings, but there’s an important lesson to be learned from this one.
I was grasping for something to paint and settled on a subject I wasn’t all too keen on. I could vaguely see the subject as a finished painting, but only just.
I didn’t start the painting with my usual mix of excitement, anticipation, and unbridled optimism. Instead, I was timid and uncertain.
By the time I hit my first serious and inevitable roadblock in the painting, I spat the dummy. I purposely made an irrecoverable mess of it so that I wouldn’t have to see it through. It’s now discarded in the corner of my studio.
The lesson here is to paint something that excites you. Painting is hard enough, so don’t handicap yourself before you start. Spend time looking for a subject that makes you want to rush into your studio, pick up a brush, and throw paint on the canvas.
There’s a second lesson here. Everyone has failed paintings, but you rarely see them. You only see the ones that went well. So don’t beat yourself up if a painting doesn’t work out. It happens to all of us. As Peter Fiore says, the next painting is the best one!