Thursday, November 19, 2015

Day 19 Ugly Ducklings

I had a teacher recently who advised that sometimes a piece will go through an ugly stage.  It's important not to prejudge whether it will come out alright in the end, and can also be important not to give in to the temptation of "fixing" it while the paint or glue is still wet.  It's hard for me to back away and come back later when things are dry, especially as working with wet watercolor can give you some amazing effects.  But I'm learning to do it, and also to try and see a piece through rather than giving up on it.  Sometimes that means setting it aside for awhile and waiting to see whether something comes to me that will help.

Just as each work can go through an ugly or ugly duckling stage, I think we artists also move through stages like that.  When we are trying to master a new technique, it can feel awkward and out of our control.  We might not like what comes out of our hands.  I like Julia Cameron's idea that we just need to show up and do the work.  Our higher power will take care of the quality if we take care of the quantity. 

When I was in 5th grade I started violin lessons. My poor parents had to listen to the practice, but encouraged me to keep at it.  After years of practice, I can now play in public and enjoy myself. 

It's the same with any kind of art...we have to learn our scales and start with pieces that are just outside our comfort level.  Just when we get comfortable, we need to stretch again.  And we need to invite our inner critic to go for a hike while we do it.

Here's one that I'm working on.  It's in an ugly duckling stage, partly because I'm working on a gessoed canvas watercolor board.  I've never worked on this surface before, and the paint is not behaving very well at all in my opinion.  It settles in strange puddles and lifts off when you don't want it to.  However, I think this is worth going on with.  Next steps are to finish the grapes and put in the branches. Worst case, I can add some silvery-white stamping towards the end that will hide some of the trouble spots.  And I'll make some notes to myself about what worked and what didn't.

1 comment:

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Barbara, this is NOT an ugly duckling. It's already a lovely work.

The reason I originally started my blog was to document for MYSELF, what I made. What worked, as well as what didn't. I never try to gloss over the parts that didn't work, but show them in photos and words. If it's a way to help ME, it will probably help others, too. I try not to be critical of my art, only the choices I make in composition or possibly choice of medium. Like you, I keep notes. But I keep mine on my blog for the whole world to see. Learning to control what works and what doesn't when we paint, is important. I like how you share it as a life lesson, too.