a problem painting


I’m going through a bad patch with a painting. It’s taken over my life and not in a good way. One area of the painting refuses to feel finished to me, which is driving me crazy. I’m obsessed with getting it right, yet nothing I do seems to work. The acrylic paint is building up, and I can see the war on the surface of the canvas. The problem is, I’m not sure I can even see what’s right anymore. It’s as if the canvas is vibrating and nothing I do can stop it. Unfortunately, it’s keeping me awake at night. My eyes are glazed over, and I can’t concentrate on anything else but that painting.

It doesn’t help to know every artist goes through this at some point or another. I just want to get through this without destroying the painting. Often when a student of mine is having this problem I tell them to put the canvas against the wall and let it cool down. Easier said than done. It’s difficult to detach from a painting I’ve been working on for weeks.

However, I do need to move on. Right now I’m just pushing paint around without any improvement to the overall composition. It’s time to take out the rubbing alcohol and remove  the problem area. This is the best way to lift acrylic paint from any surface. It took me half my painting career before I discovered this secret. Rubbing alcohol removes paint from clothes, furniture and rugs. It’s amazing. Since finding this solution, I’m able to experiment more freely with the paint. I gesso the area over again and let it dry for a couple of hours. The surface is now ready to transfer the image back onto the canvas.

It’s great to have a new beginning. There have been occasions when I had to repeat this two or three times before I got it right. The best part of it is you can’t detect any change on the surface of the canvas. I can breathe again.