Feeling stuck with my painting

Week before last, I’d been working on a bonsai-style tree painting, and it was not going the way I had envisioned at all. Many times I go with it when my painting does not evolve into what I had in mind, afterall the journey is an interesting ride. In many cases my painting turns out even better than I had thought it would!

But last week, I was feeling stuck with my painting; I simply did not like it. So what did I do? In my frustration, I “erased” the tree and started it all over again.

The second tree is a little better. You can see from the the collage below what the difference looks like.

painting process, creative process, painting, mistake

Progress of my tree when I was feeling stuck.

I changed the shape of the branches and the angle of the trunk. The funny part is that the reference picture I was working with was a twisty bonsai tree and I simply angled the tree to fit up against the cliff. But with either tree, it looked like a person leaning up against the cliff wall. Kinda funny.

But it was still unsettling and the third photo was what I had done on Monday last week. I was SO ready to just put it away! I was tired of looking at it by that point – I’d painted a tree already, painted over it, then begin again only to find general discontent. Enough!

It ended up that from Tuesday onward through the rest of the week, I didn’t have any time to paint! Or should I say that I didn’t seek out an opportunity to paint in my busy schedule of errands and issues that came up. So my painting foundered for a week and I looked at it with a sort of ambivalence.

Finally a week passed and once my son was in school again, I faced my painting and had to decide whether or not to continue. I had my next canvas prepped and ready to go, with an idea for a subject and everything.

I put the new canvas on my easel and set my tree up against the wall. And as I looked down at it a loud and clear voice inside me said:

Just finish it!

I was only mildly displeased with the shape, if only because it was not what I had intended when I envisioned this piece. But my collectors might feel differently!

Then these intuitive, creative ideas came to me. Add my signature textured shapes (TINY rectangles this time) over the erased blossoms that still shone through. Re-painted the blossoms this time with really thick paint in the same brick red with more white for a pinkish color. Angled them all slightly in the same direction.

Suddenly I had something that looked pretty good!

While I still have more work to do, I know that when feeling stuck with a painting I need to put it away for awhile, then come back to it and approach it with an open mind.



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