When I Paint My Masterpiece

bob-dylanAs a child of the sixties, I’ve always been a big fan of Bob Dylan. Even now, I enjoy listening to his Greatest Hits as much as I did when the world was young and the songs were new.

One favorite was When I Paint My Masterpiece. The lyrics hardly make sense, but that’s part of what makes Dylan’s music so intriguing, I think.

The song actually went through several changes, and you can find a fascinating analysis of the meaning of the words and music at Untold Dylan.

For me, the closing lines of the song were enough.

Someday, everything is gonna be diff’rent
When I paint my masterpiece

Not that I ever expected to do such a thing. I was the girl who couldn’t draw a straight line, remember? But I had other talents. I wrote. I played music. I danced. I sang.  A masterpiece, in my opinion, could be the pinnacle of any creative passion, not just painting.

For me, the song was one of hope. Hang on, keep going, do what you love. Never mind the struggle and the craziness. Just keep on keeping on, and yeah, someday it will happen. You’ll paint that masterpiece. And when you do, your world will change.

Well, that song has been going through my head today because this morning it happened for me. I painted my masterpiece. Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not comparing my works with those of the great artists of all time. I’m just saying that my painting today is my personal best. I actually cried a little when I stepped back and saw what I had done.

It’s got its flaws, but it so truly captures the spirit of who I want to be as an artist that I’m happy to look beyond the mistakes to see the possibilities. I wasn’t able to get a good photograph of the painting. Maybe once it’s dried completely I can try again with better lighting.

For what it’s worth, here’s my masterpiece.



Now, I’m more excited than ever about oil painting. This was done with an underpainting of green and blue — the first time I’ve tried using an underpainting. I was very pleased that I actually got the effects I wanted with the trees, although it’s difficult to see in the photo.

I can’t wait to buy more canvas panels, more paints — I’m loving the cheap $8.00 oil sets I can get at Wal-Mart — and lots more brushes. The more I learn, the more I want to do.

And yes, I think my world did change a bit today. I think a lot of things are different now…now that I’ve painted my first masterpiece.



Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
Ancient footprints are everywhere
You can almost think that you’re seein’ double
On a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs
Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
Where I’ve got me a date with Botticelli’s niece
She promised that she’d be right there with me
When I paint my masterpiece

Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin’ time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see ’em
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb
Train wheels runnin’ through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece

Sailin’ round the world in a dirty gondola
Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola!

I left Rome and landed in Brussels
On a plane ride so bumpy that I almost cried
Clergymen in uniform and young girls pullin’ muscles
Everyone was there to greet me when I stepped inside
Newspapermen eating candy
Had to be held down by big police
Someday, everything is gonna be diff’rent
When I paint my masterpiece

Copyright © 1971 by Big Sky Music; renewed 1999 by Big Sky Music



    1. Thank you. The song came in to my head and made me see that it is my “masterpiece” — for now, at least. With practice, I’ll continue to improve, so I can look forward to painting another “masterpiece” in the future. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jodi. It looks so much better than the photograph. I’m learning to keep stepping back as I’m painting so I can “see” the whole picture and not just individual pieces, and I was just stunned when I saw the painting coming together. I couldn’t believe I’d actually created the scene.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The trees are perfect, the water is excellent but…. overall I’m left puzzled about two things. Why is the sky green? And, as water comes down from somewhere, where is this water coming from? The water in the middle seems to be coming up and over the hill, which is physically impossible, and the water flowing in from the left seems to be coming from out of the earth. True, this can happen, but it is rare, and is not likely to be such rushing water. Hmmmm…….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sky is green because I was using an underpainting of green turning to blue, and I got too much green on the upper half. Plus I used cadmium yellow for the light source which mixed with what blue was there. Actually, the sky in the painting is blue-green, but in the photograph, it looks different. When I stepped back, I decided I liked it. Yeah, I had problems figuring out how to put the water in. I tried putting in a rocky ledge, but that was beyond my capabilities for now. The painting has a lot of flaws but as a beginning oil painter I was willing to overlook them. 🙂 My next “masterpiece” will be better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand about the color differences between reality and screen – also between your screen and mine. I truly intend my comments to be constructive. Your individual elements are fine, just I found some difficulty in realism with the arrangement. Keep painting! Looking forward to seeing the next one.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I appreciate your comments. I know the painting has lots of flaws, and it’s helpful to “see” it from someone else’s perspective. I struggled with the water and ended up trying to layer a few “bushes” over one section, which is why it appears the water is springing forth from the earth LOL. Every painting is a new learning experience for me. I’m going to be trying out some new techniques in my art session this morning. 🙂 Wish me luck.

        Liked by 1 person

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