Alright, so I started working on this self-portrait a few weeks ago. I had to stop and put it aside because of a vacation and packing for a move. Now that I’m starting to come around to getting back to work, I am looking at this with fresher eyes…and I hate it. It’s looking real fucked up to me. I see a lot that I want to change. Maybe my adverse reaction to the painting is because it’s not finished yet? It happens sometimes, I’ll start to freak out and have a meltdown if a piece doesn’t look great to me right away. Even with a well thought-out plan for a painting it’s still hard to know where exactly I’ll end up while I’m still in the process. However, usually I can manage to continue to work on the piece to completion despite my reservations in the middle of it. But even knowing that, this painting right now is a huge NOPE to me. You may look at it and think that it’s fine, that’s usually how these things go. We’re our own worst critics, right? But until I can get it to a point where I like it, it doesn’t matter how others perceive it.
Maybe this is something I shouldn’t be sharing, but I am anyway because I think this is the stuff that you rarely see from artists. Or people in general, really. Who really wants to admit that they fucked anything up? Not many. How often do you see what people share online and think that “Damn their life is practically perfect” or “That artist/musician/writer/etc. makes it look sooo easy”? It seems like you only really get to see the parts that people want you to see. The good parts. The perfect start, the perfect middle and the perfect end result. Which isn’t really a bad thing, per se. However, sometimes I think doing that puts out a false expectation about what we (artists) do, and the process of it. I ain’t trying to fake the funk about anything about myself or what I do. I don’t have anything to hide. I’m not afraid to say when something I do misses the mark, if that’s what I truly think. This is the real stuff. These are my mistakes. So yes, now here I am with a painting with what I think has a strong concept, I thought I had a great start out of the gate with a decent underpainting/drawing, and now it looks shitty to me. Here enters the self-doubt and the scramble to figure out how to paint my way out of this. Nowhere near having a meltdown yet, but I am feeling challenged and a bit insecure.
How do I face this? So far the easiest routes that I know to save a painting are to either paint over the mistake(s) wet into wet with the correct color, or to wipe out the mistake and then paint over it. I’m way past that point which brings me to the last option: let it dry and start over in that area. Fortunately this piece has had a couple of weeks to dry, so I can dive right in. Unfortunately, there’s so much that I don’t like about it that I’ll practically be redoing the whole painting. I don’t feel too good about that. I realized that next time I will have to plan better so I can minimize these kinds of hiccups. So maybe that’s the silver lining? We’ll see. I’m going to try working on it again to get it back on track.