Sometimes We Make Ugly

I’m having an ugly day in the art studio. I wasn’t planning to make bad art, today, but sometimes it just happens, and what’s been happening today is just plain ugly.

It started with my art journal. I had an idea for the page based on a tutorial I’d watched yesterday. I thought I remembered the basic steps, but, as it turns out, I didn’t really do it all quite right, but no matter. Anything goes in art journaling, right? Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean the results are going to be good.

I finished the page, and it looked so awful that all I could do was laugh about it. I won’t even show it to you. The main problem I had was with stenciling a pattern over the page. I’m learning more about using stencils, but I ended up with quite a mess this morning.

And then I decided to work on a new oil painting. I had a reference photo, and I’ll admit from the start I wasn’t quite sure how to translate it from photo to canvas, but I thought it would be fun to try. Yes, it was fun, but I wasn’t happy with the result.

The painting is sitting on my drying rack now, and after taking a photo of it, I used my photo editing program to crop up a lot from the bottom. That makes the picture look much better, so I’m not calling it a total loss.

Cherry Blossom Morning

I’m letting it dry for now, and later I want to go back and work more on the foliage, add a little more light in places, and put in a few “sky holes” that got covered up as I fiddled with the leaves on the trees.

It is discouraging when I have high hopes for a drawing or painting, or even an art journal page, and it doesn’t come out at all as I’d hoped. With this one, I shrugged, set it aside, and thought again that sometimes, like it or not, we just make ugly. It’s not intentional; it just happens now and then.

Making ugly can be a good thing, though, because it helps us recognize mistakes we’re making. At the same time, it also helps us see what’s good in our work, because even in an ugly drawing or painting, we can find something good if we look.

With my cherry trees, I love the way I captured the greenery in the distance. I like some of the dappled light, too. At least I thought about lights and shadows as I painted, and that, in itself, is a step in the right direction.

Mostly I was unhappy with the colors and the ugly foliage on the trees. I let the sky get a little too dark, as well. In the original painting — before I cropped it in this photograph — the green grassy area extended downward. Much too far downward. It ended up an ugly brownish green. Really ugly. So, there’s another lesson for me to learn in planning my compositions a bit better.

So, there’s some good in it, some bad in it, and some downright ugly, and I have a feeling that’s how the rest of my day here in the studio might go. It seems that once I do ugly, I get stuck on ugly, and maybe it would be better for me to close up shop for today, clean my paintbrushes, and come back for a fresh start tomorrow.

Until then… happy drawing and painting, and don’t worry if you sometimes make ugly. It happens, and it’s all right.


    1. I think it’s important to understand that not everything we draw or paint will turn out the way we’d hoped. It doesn’t mean we should give up. It just means we need to try again. 🙂 I’ve decided to scrape off my “cherry blossom” painting and do it over. Hopefully it will turn out better the second time. If not, I’ll do it again. 🙂

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  1. I think the ground is good, add a little to the leaves. Bad art isn’t bad it’s just a verse on a 2 d surface that people may compare with other things but as a artist myself I’m impressed by this painting keep it up the painting and you’ll do better art later in your life. It’s nice

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    1. Thanks. It’s a learning process. I’m planning to probably scrape most of the paint off this one and give it another go. There are a lot of things I can do better. Yesterday was just one of those “ugly” days in the studio. Nothing I did really turned out the way I wanted. LOL. Some days are like that, I’ve learned.

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    1. Oh! I’ll keep that in mind LOL. I know it’s true that “character” attracts interest. That’s why models aren’t always the prettiest woman in “conventional terms” but those with the most “interesting” faces. I guess the same is true for art!

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    1. Thanks! The cropped version looks better than the real one. I want to try it again and see if I can do better with the foliage, better with the overall composition of the trees. I like a lot in the painting, and I think I can improve on it in the next attempt.


    1. Thank you. Yes, we all have different ways of “seeing” art, different likes and dislikes. With this painting I think part of the problem is that it doesn’t match what I was seeing in my head.

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  2. Haha I made a post something similar a while ago lol. Oh ugly art, how contemptuous! I always try to look on the bright side and not take it personal (I should do that with all my art come to think of it 🤔). It sounds like you’ve taken the good from it, I could try that too although sometimes it’s SO BAD haha.

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    1. Sometimes I get to the point where I have to deliberately make bad art just so I’ll stop getting so serious about it and have fun with it again. At other times, I end up with ugly art unintentionally. Yep, I’ve learned to find whatever good in it I can, and move on! I started a new version of this painting this morning. I’m getting ready to write a post about it. So far, it’s coming along much better, so I think I learned from the ugly one. 🙂

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      1. Exactly! If I’m fretting and fussing and worrying about results, sometimes it’s better to just throw up my hands, say, “Oh, heck with it!” and just make bad art. It really takes the pressure off, and most of the time I learn something in the process. There’s definitely a time and a place for bad art!


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