There's an amusing meme floating around the internet. Well, amusing to us artist types, at least. It goes something like:
The Creative Process
1. This is awesome
2. This is tricky.
3. This is crap.
4. I am crap.
5. This might be okay.
6. This is awesome.
(Thanks to the wonderful Raven Quinn for posting this again.)
I think we all have variations on this theme. For instance, about 70% of the way through most paintings, I decide I am a miserable failure at art and should give it up, sell my paints, and become a dental hygienist. The fact that I am totally grossed out by people's teeth/ eaten food/ touching someone's face and STILL default to dental hygienist shows the depths of my desperation. I'll interpret that as step #4 on this list.
Very, very rarely, a piece of artwork bypasses 2-5 and stays straight on "awesome" all the way through. Those are rare gifts indeed, and should be regarded with equal amounts suspicion and gratitude.
And then there are the others - the ones that never get past #3. Or they make it past #3, go to #5, and then go straight back to #3. What to do with those?
In my case, they stay in my studio closet for a long time - sometimes months or even years. Rarely, I break down and throw them away. But usually they sit there, stacked in amongst other works 'in progress" and cause great vexation when I guiltily flip past them. "Can I do something with this?" "Is it salvageable?" "Stuff like this makes me think I should have been a dental hygienist." They're the paintings that had a great premise or spark of an idea, and then derailed somewhere along the way. Maybe I went with the wrong color palette. Maybe the composition wasn't as strong as it could have been. Maybe the stars weren't aligned properly. Maybe I just don't have the skill to pull this off yet.
Most of them get at least one more chance. And some of those "second chances" get pretty inventive, like grinding off layers of paint, or going all cad red all over the place, or gallons of turpentine upended over the canvas. Desperation = invention, right? Sometimes that's the unconventional spark needed to pull something out of nothing, create order from chaos. And sometimes it just leads to a puddle of turpentine, paint as red as blood, and bitter, bitter tears.
Today, two paintings are headed to the trash. I'm feeling badly about it, because I think they are both interesting ideas that could be really great artworks, but... it's not happening. It's just not. Well... I might just scrape some paint off that last one...
Here's a few of the "problem children" that sat in the closet for months, or three years, in one case, before I was finally able to pull them out and do something with them. Worth the wait? I think so. What do you think?
"Forward" oil on canvas © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014. All Rights Reserved.
"Charging Forward" oil on board © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014. All Rights Reserved.
"Rollback" oil on canvas © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2014. All Rights Reserved.