“Hi, I’m a seascape that’s been sitting on the easel for a long, long time. I finally got finished, so here I am. You’ve probably forgotten what I was all about, but that’s all right. I won’t be going out anywhere on display. I’ll just be hanging around the house here.”
I don’t know if anyone remembers this painting or not. It has, indeed, been sitting at my easel for a long time. Why? Because I just didn’t know how to approach it or what to do with it.
Here’s how it began.
At the time, I called it my “bugaboo” painting. I struggle with getting a wide range of values in my paintings so I began this one with a tonal underpainting focusing only on the values.
Next, I began painting, trying to stay with the proper values as I faced my old bugaboo.
I continued working slowly, growing more and more unsure of exactly how to finish the painting.
Finally, putting my new “just do it” attitude to work, I recently turned to the old bugaboo and started painting. Here it is again as it looks today.
Having it sit around from July to January gave me a chance to learn from it, and what I learned is that while I still need to work on values, doing tonal underpaintings and attempting to “draw out” my landscape (or seascape as the case may be) doesn’t help me in the least. In fact, it hinders me. It makes me hesitant to approach the painting, makes me unsure about how to put my paint on the canvas, makes me question myself and the choices I make in my art.
Today, I console myself by thinking, “Oh, it could be worse,” and truly it could be. I won’t call it a “failed painting”, and no, I won’t apologize for it. As it is, I’m glad to have it “finished” and I will happily set it aside, move it away from the easel, and maybe I will actually hang it on the wall here in my little office.
Now, I can move on to other things — and I already have a lot of those “other things” in the works. I’m ready now to really get this new year of art underway.