Buckle Up, Buttercup — Disasters Ahead!

Since sharing my favorite works of art, I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading the idea of sharing the absolute worst of my art. Oh, there have been so many failures, so many disappointments, so many traumatic moments!

Overall, it’s been worth it, and I can look back at a lot of my “art disasters” and laugh now. What can I say other than, “Hey, I was trying!” I can’t say that these bad examples are in any real order, but here are ten of the very worst drawings and paintings I’ve ever done.

10. Fat Cat

Our “Flower Child” is such a beautiful cat, but here in my artist’s rendition she’s short and fat. I’m so very sorry, Flower. I did my best. At least I got some of your markings right.

9. Laundry? Really?

Another entry in the “Well, I tried” category was this graphite drawing of a pile of laundry I’d just taken from the dryer. I know, I know. It’s wholly unrecognizable. Besides that, who draws a pile of laundry? It was a good challenge, I’ll say that.

8. I Don’t Do Plein Air


These three “works of art” should be enough to convince anyone that plein air is definitely not for me. The first was done with oil pastel, the second is a crazy attempt to “rough in ” a scene with charcoal, and the third was done with Japanese gansai. I appreciate all the encouragement I’ve received about getting out and doing plein air, but as you can see, I’m just not comfortable with it. Maybe someday… but judging from these attempts, maybe staying home and working from my studio is a better choice for me.

7. What Is It?

Personally I didn’t think this one was so awful, but I felt it deserved to be on this list because of the crushing emotional blow I felt when my husband looked at it and asked, “What is it?” To that point, he’d been entirely supportive and encouraging of my art. This was the first time he’d ever looked at one of my “practice pieces” and not offered at least a few words of praise. Can you tell what it is? Probably not. Oh, well. At least, as you’ll see, it’s better than some of the disasters I’ve drawn and painted.

6. Murphy’s House

I find this one absolutely hideous, and I was very embarrassed when I shared it here in the blog. It was definite proof that I’m not a watercolor artist. At the time, I wasn’t feeling like much of an artist at all. This sorry-looking house was just one more example of why I was all but ready to give up. I’m glad now that I kept going instead.

7. Everything Went Wrong

As part of a 100-Day art challenge, I attempted to copy “Winter Stream” by Aubrey Phillips. The result was not good. This was especially bothersome since I tried my best to do everything “right”. How could I try to do everything right and end up with a painting where everything was wrong? Later, I did paint this scene again with slightly better results.

6. That Poor Girl

My response to criticism here is to say, “Hey! Look closely. She has a navel. And she has knees.” Those are the only good things about this slouching figure. I still recall my husband shaking his head and muttering, “That poor girl.” The good thing here is that this oil painting shows I’m definitely not afraid of a challenge.

5. Feeling Blue

Yes, here’s another “poor girl” — one of the first “cringe-worthy failures” I posted on the blog. People sometimes ask why I post both good and bad art on Artistcoveries. The reason I do is because this blog represents my journey. Learning art — especially late in life — isn’t always a straight, easy path. There are lots of ups and downs, and I do learn a lot from the bad art I create. I post it here in hopes that others can learn from my mistakes.

4. Don’t Even Ask

This one never even made it to the “finished” stage. For what it’s worth, that shadow that looks off-kilter is actually correct, but I was struggling so much with this one — done in acrylic on canvas paper — that I chalked it up to a lost cause and never made any attempt to complete it.


3. No Comment

Here’s another one — an acrylic pouring — that I don’t really think qualifies as “bad art”, yet this was part of one of the most painful art experiences I’ve ever been through. If you want to read the whole story, you’ll find it here — Slip Sliding Away.

In the six years since I began pursuing art, the closest I ever came to giving up was after attending this acrylic pouring workshop. The two pourings I did that night were totally ignored by the instructor, a fact that still confounds me. I was, truly, the only participant who did not receive a single word of praise or encouragement from her. Why? What was so bad, so awful, or so wrong about my work? Nothing that I can see.

To add to my feelings of despair, the acrylic paint went “slip-sliding” across the canvas as I drove home that night, leaving me with this:

Even here, I don’t think this is a “complete disaster” but the overall experience of that workshop left me feeling like a total failure. It hurt. Even now, it still hurts. The lesson here is for anyone who conducts an art workshop or demonstration. Please, never ignore a single participant. If you can’t offer praise, at least provide encouragement. This one thoughtless art instructor nearly caused me to walk away from art, and to this day I still don’t understand why she considered my art unworthy of a single word of commentary.

2. The Face Only a Mother Cow Could Love

Of all the horrible drawings and paintings I’ve made and posted, this one felt the most embarrassing, I think. It’s not just bad… it’s hilariously bad. I’m not good at drawing or painting animals. We know this. Yet, my attempt at painting a few cows in a pasture was laughable. My cow looks more like a possum, and truly only a mother cow could love a face like that.

And then, speaking of faces… let’s get to the worst example of “art” I’ve posted in this blog. Here’s Number 1 on the list.

1 . It’s a Tronie

All I’ll say here is that, yes, I made a real mess of this fellow, but I learned a new art term. The painting I was using as a reference was Verdonk, a “tronie” by Frans Hals. What’s a “tronie”?

A tronie is a common type, or group of types, of works common in Dutch Golden Age painting and Flemish Baroque painting that shows an exaggerated facial expression or a stock character in costume. – From Wikiart

When my husband saw this horrible painting, at least I could say, “Oh, it’s a tronie,” as if that somehow made it better.

Along with these colossal and “cringe-worthy” failures, there have been many others. There was my attempt to draw the Scovegni Chapel, the nightmarish perspective drawing of an open door, and yet another “poor girl”, this one going through a definite “bad hair day”.

I’ve spared you from seeing a lot of my ugly art, but again there’s that question: Why post any of these bad paintings, these horrible drawings, these painful experiences? Once more, it’s because this is a journey, and like a good travel guide, I hope to steer you not only toward pleasant places and positive experiences, but also to steer you away from places you really don’t want to go.

I’ve been to those bad places in art. I’ve visited despair, desperation, and discouragement. I’ve had my work criticized, my questionable talent scoffed at, my role as “an artist” discounted. Yet through it all, here I am. My story as an artist is a story of persistence, if nothing else.

Actually, it’s been fun to look back over these last few years to see both the best and the worst of my art. I think it’s good to see again — in very visual terms — that art isn’t a straight-forward path. Some of my “best” drawings and paintings were done years ago, while some of my “worst” efforts are more recent.

Art encompasses so many media and takes us in so many different directions that we’re always learning, always growing. There will always be ups and down. There will always be good drawings, surprisingly good paintings, and absolutely horrible attempts all mixed up together. That’s how art is.

Again I’m grateful for those who’ve followed along on my journey. I hope today’s post has brought you a few laughs, and even more, I hope it’s given you a bit of inspiration.


    1. It was fun to look back and laugh about this… except for the arcylic pouring experience. That was painful, not funny. It still hurts that the instructor simply ignored me that night.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know. I try to shake it off and just consider it as thoughtless on her part, but it was a very painful experience. If nothing else, I hope reading my story helps others become more aware of how their actions can affect others.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the thing… yes, I learned something from all of these “disasters”, and most of all lately I’ve been learning not to take myself too seriously. So embarrassing as it is, it’s still been fun to drag out these bad drawings and paintings and have a good laugh.


      1. I love your courage in showing the baby steps that led to more confident work. Brava! Getting a “perfect” result is not a realistic expectation. Lots of very skilled artists work in series, wrestling with the same idea or technique over and over again. There is always something new to learn, master, try…. and the pleasure of learning.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Honestly, Judith, I agree with you that your waterfall picture’s not that bad at all! It probably just needed a bit more depth of shadows and highlights so it didn’t look quite so flat on the page… Unless it’s not actually a waterfall at all, of course, in which case oops, I apologise profusely for my embarrassing error! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a waterfall! In my husband’s defense, he has vision problems and can’t always distinguish colors. Still, it was crushing when he looked at it and said “What is it?” LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find it’s important to share the reality of a journey. If we are naturally good where’s the challenge in that? This displays growth. Without failure how would we know success? Thank you for sharing the messy because it does give hope to those beginning their journey. Well, for myself, it does.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂 I’m glad you found some inspiration in my “bad art”. I know I personally find more inspiration in imperfection than I do in looking at something absolutely perfect. I know I can never achieve such high standards with my art, so it’s comforting to see works by Degas or Cezanne that show imperfections. I can aspire to that! Plus, we do learn from mistakes, much more than from success. Both are necessary in our journey. Thanks for walking alongside me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Misery loves company, my painting time was a struggle yesterday. I attempted a mountain in morning light, and my husband thought it was a wave cresting over brown water. . . He loved warming up his own leftovers last night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL… sorry to laugh about the leftovers, but I’m thinking, yeah, my husband can fix his own dinner if he has to! As you can see from my artwork, I probably have as many failures as successes. Maybe even more failures. But that’s part of the process. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s easy. But sometimes is can be a struggle. Through it all, we just keep going.


      1. That’s really true. Earlier this year I wrote a post about learning from mistakes. This was what I’d discovered:

        WE LEARN MORE FROM MISTAKES BECAUSE WE’RE NO LONGER CONCERNED ABOUT MAKING MISTAKES. With this practice piece, my thinking was “Well, I can’t hurt it, so let me try this… and this… and this.” Each time I tried something different, I saw the results. I learned from every brush stroke I made.

        That’s so very true, and as you can see from my art “disasters” I’ve had lots of learning experiences!

        Liked by 1 person

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