when nothing goes right

The longer I work at my art, the more the creative process puzzles me. I don’t always know where inspiration comes from, yet I do know there are times when it comes easily to me and other times when I struggle with the simplest skills. There’s no predicting when I start a new work how it will go until I’m into it. While I never anticipate problems, I have learned over the years to expect them.

I can work hours on an area of a painting to the point of obsession, only to find the next day nothing I did worked. But one thing for sure, never destroy a work before going to bed. Often tired judgment is the easiest way to make mistakes. While some paintings are easier to paint than others, I’ve come to respect the process. This is where having passion for the work separates amateurs from professionals. Still after all these years, why do I have to struggle at all with any painting? You would think I should have figured out a way to avoid these problems by now.

I have a theory about this. I feel the difficult paintings are necessary in the development of my art. It’s the persistence to conquer a problem piece that often leads to new insights. It’s in the breakthroughs that art is advanced. When I teach a drawing class, I set up problems for the students to solve from the very beginning. It’s the ability to conquer frustration that determines whether they have a stomach to become an artist.

I’ve come to the conclusion, when nothing goes right on a painting it’s just part of the process. It should be considered an opportunity to explore. To be a professional artist means being tenacious and open to unexpected possibilities.