Posts tagged ‘The Artists Way’

Making Ugly Art

Julia Cameron, the author of  The Artist’s Way, was right.  There will be times when you will make ugly art. Yesterday was one of those days and I have to accept it.

I was working in a medium that I hadn’t dabbled in since about a year and half ago – acrylics.  My latest piece was “Angry Kitty” back in 2012 and that turned out fairly well, mostly because the subject matter wasn’t too complicated.

It was this past Saturday when I felt the need to paint “Ninja” or “Assassin ( actually I don’t know what to really call the thing).”  The following day was Palm Sunday and one would think that I would have wanted to do something more contemplative.

I made a rough drawing in my sketch book nearly two years ago.  I created three throwing stars flying in the air towards their target.  I painted a trial throwing star on a smaller canvas for practice but never got around to doing the final work because I wasn’t comfortable with executing it.

         Ninja Stars     Star Final

Saturday, I drew the throwing stars on canvas and then painted the background.


Sunday, I tinted the white to give a light gray or dirty white base and then I applied white streaks as a second layer for some added texture.



It wasn’t until I started working on the stars that my problems began.  I struggled with using the brushes to create a sense of motion.  The swirls around the stars were muddy and the black streaks trailing the stars were just too big.  My lack of skill as an acrylic painter became quite obvious.



Creating ugly art is one of those things that will happen at some point in any artist’s life.  It’s a letdown considering the amount of the time one puts into their work, and in my case it happened to be a good bit of the day yesterday.  I had such high hopes.  Hindsight, I should have stopped right before painting the stars to give myself more time to think about my technique, but I was feeling pretty confident.

On the upside, making ugly art is a learning experience. Once I screwed up and was unable to find a resolution, I just went into “the heck with it” mode and just started playing with it.  I discovered that there were some things that worked that could be applied to future works and other things that didn’t.

I’m debating on whether or not to fix this hot mess.  I mean why miss an opportunity to REALLY jack it up further?  Most likely I will just scrap it and start over. That wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something like this and thanks to the learning curve, I can probably finish it in less time.  Well, shoot, maybe I just solved my own problem right there! Just start over.  It’s okay.  It’s what the creative process is about.


Working, Procrastinating, and Working at Procrastinating

So one thing I know for sure is that I am not one of those artists who spends endless hours in the studio. In fact, if I’m in my workspace all day, then it’s clear that I’m working  under a major time crunch.

Every weekend is filled with good intentions when it comes to making art and this past weekend was no different. First thing in the morning  I tell myself that I am going to get started as soon as I finish making my coffee.  After sitting on the front porch and draining my two cups however, something changes.  Instead, I get on the computer and look at Facebook and surf the Internet.  Then I write my “morning pages,” a la Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way.  For those who don’t know what morning pages are, think of it as journaling, where you are writing three pages of streamed consciousness.   It’s supposed to be handwritten but I don’t have the patience for that so I type it out on my laptop in a large font that mimics handwriting.

Then while I’m on the computer I realize that I had better go to Trader Joe’s for groceries.  A girl’s gotta eat, right?  This past weekend there was an art fair taking place just up the street from Trader Joe’s, so I figured I would check that out right before grocery shopping.  Believe me, if there was no fair I’d be somewhere else, perhaps at a nearby park rollerblading or running.

I return home a few hours later and it’s after 2:00,  the hour when no matter where I am or what I am doing, I am compelled to take a nap.  I do this on the couch while the TV is still on Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell” (I kid you not), with my cat (who honestly has one paw in Hell and one out of Hell), sleeping on my lap.

After that nice little nap, I pick up my phone and fart around with this cool app that I downloaded from Facebook called “Colorized.”  So I crank out tons of little random thumbnail sketches on my phone and post some on Facebook.    Here are some of them.

IMG_0088  IMG_0108 IMG_0089

Not exactly Leonard Di Vinci but hey, good enough since I’m practically finger painting.   At least I was applying my drawing skills somewhere, except that I was not applying them to “Tree Dreams” my latest piece that is in desperate need of attention.  I know it’s because I’m apprehensive about adding color and I don’t want to draw those friggin’ houses in the background either.

Eventually I go upstairs and start working on the piece but it’s after 6:00 and I hadn’t had any supper.

Pitiful, I know, but I did make some progress on “Tree Dreams” before the end of the weekend.    I drew the tree in black chalk pastel and added gray to the background behind it.  It scared me at first but I think I am headed in the right direction.


Again, I wish I was one of those artists who could spend a day cranking out art but alas, I am not. Honestly I think it’s because I’m afraid that while I’m in the studio/office, I’m gonna miss something  like sunny weather, some lame Facebook post, special event, or TV show.   I’m sure I’m not the only artist out there who is like this but you better believe that while I’m away, my art isn’t gonna draw itself!

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