Knowing When to Quit…

Those who have spent a good deal of time painting will know exactly what I mean… There is a noticeable feeling I get when a painting is behaving as it should.  Colors are brighter, strokes are tighter or flow more evenly.  All the planets align and a fantastic painting is born.  Sometimes, however, things don’t quite work out how I expect.  It could be a combination of stress, creative exhaustion… a melting pot of a thousand other ingredients that keep me and my trusty brushes from doing our best work.  Just the same as when all is well; when the badness begins, you just know.  I usually toss my brush in my water jar and think , “This ain’t happenin!”  I usually try to leave it for a few days hoping that when I return to the easel, the planets will realign and I can turn this thing around.  Every so often, this works.  Most of the time, it doesn’t.  So the question at hand is, “When do you call it quits?”  It is easy to pour a bowl of gesso and return to a blank slate.  Not that paintings and kids are the same, well for artists, sometimes they are…it’s a labor of love thing.  If your kid is having a rough patch, misbehaving; those aggravating things kids often do, you don’t return them and start over.  Parents spend time correcting the behavior to create something beautiful and worthwhile.  I want to try to employ the same tactics in my “not-so-good” paintings.  Leave the gesso on the shelf and keep soldiering on until it is completed.  When the muses and painting gods seem to be against me; it seems like a waste of energy to keep fighting the inevitable…my painting WILL be crappy. Quit or keep going, quit or keep going?  I ask myself this a hundred times when I reach “the point.”  Is the time I already invested a waste?  Some of these paintings are ones that cause me to question whether or not I am actually a good painter.  Each work started with an idea, a enthusiastic thought that I have mentally designed something that will be good.  Perhaps they each deserve to come to fruition, fully.  I think the key is to identify the triggers that cause my work to head south in the first place.  I know this will be an ongoing investigation…

Below: the stagnant Einstein


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