July 2011 – A Creative Disaster

It just never fails! Part of me believes I’m destined  or somehow predisposed to always have this happen to me. Why is it that when you invest so much time and energy into something, it has to fight back….

What on earth am I talking about? Well I’m talking about my creative disaster.

I was happily painting a picture of an egg, finished the charcoal stage, moved onto the underpainting stage, all was going well and seamless until bang! I sprayed my underpainting with some fixative and lost all of my values and detail. I must not have been pressing hard enough with the pastel because the colours faded to mud and there was no hint of the gorgeous underpainting that once existed.

So, needless to say I was beyond vex. I debated putting it in the trash and starting over, I pouted, let out a few choice words that the nieghbor’s kids probably shouldn’t hear, pouted some more, questioned my general ability as an artist… emailed my disaster to a friend (don’t know why I did that) who only confirmed that it was a disaster because they’re use to seeing my finished work. (Note to other artists, don’t ever set yourself up like that).

But then I emailed the work to the teacher of my weekly art class who simply said “oh ok keep going”. To which in my head I was thinking “keep going? how?  why? do you see this trash?”. But I didn’t dare say that out loud LOL!

 Now I have a habit of tossing work aside when it is not going as planned as oppose to working through it which I believe my teacher is well aware of (we call it my painting grave). This not only waste materials but also kills the spirit of the piece and doesn’t allow me to learn from working through these problematic stages. Most of these “creative disasters” aren’t really disasters. So part of me had to give myself a swift kick in the butt. This is a setback yes, a challenge most definitely. So instead of  putting the pic aside, I mustered up the tossing interests to continue with it.

And as fate would have it (because someone above is laughing down at me), I came across an article entitled “10 Ways to Handle Creative Disasters” while reading the July/August issue of the Professional Artist Magazine. Good timing!  The author, Eric Maisel listed the following tips:

10 Ways to Handle A Creative Disaster

  1. Mind your language – is it really necessary to call your creative mishap a disaster? Such words don’t help you
  2. Instantly forgive yourself – are you going to pile on tons of guilt and regret or forgive yourself and move on?
  3. Exorcise lingering regrets– are you going to focus on all of the mistakes made and dwell on your perceived failures? Exorcise the negativity instantly
  4. Engage in self support – do you need something to pick you up again? Treat yourself to something  that will eliminate the state of unhappiness
  5. Take a break and reappraise – take some time away, and then come back and reassess, very often you’ll find that it wasn’t really a disaster
  6. Get feedback – decide when is the right time for feedback and seek it from a qualified opinion, use feedback wisely
  7. Salvage the good parts – focus on what can be saved as oppose to what must be discarded
  8. Reframe the situation as a learning experience – don’t sit and lick your wounds, make a brave effort. A “disaster” can be a great learning experience if you treat them that way
  9. Get back to work – we lose vast amounts of time if we allow our “failed” projects to become excuses for not getting back on the horse and trying again
  10. Honor the process – honour the creative process by embracing the idea that “disasters” come with the territory and they musn’t derail us.

Source: Eric Maisel, Professional Artists Magazine

This article is really important to me and I have actually torn it out and place d it into my art journal so that I can reread it as necessary.

Back to the “disaster”… as I type this, I have in fact finished the “disaster” piece. And goodness knows you will not believe what it looks like now! I’m indeed happy with it BUT you’ll have to check in to see when I post it!  You know I have to keep ya coming back!