When nothing works….

When nothing works….

Thought I’d write about my experience and what helps when I go through periods of producing paintings that are scrape offs ….as I have the last few weeks

It’s very frustrating- sometimes what seems like weeks (poss more like 10 days…) of painting out Plein air - I often go through periods where my work goes backwards and every one is a scraper… Not only does it hit the confidence but it’s like coming up against a brick wall and motivation goes downhill quite rapidly… Sometimes a break helps, but often, certainly when confidence and motivation begin to go, I go back to basics and try to paint something simple, part of the sky, a leaf, just do a block in, getting the main colours down and just generally play, with no aim to produce a finished painting. Other helpful stuff is to use a smaller canvas board- 6 x 6 ins or something similar-avoiding labouring for hours on something that feels overwhelming or even sometimes trying a different colour on the palette helps motivation - But the biggest thing I’ve learnt this past couple of years of Plein air is, gradually the scrapers get better, (they are still scrapers) and it’s all part of the process- I think quite normal. They don’t scare me anymore, as I’ve learnt that this is a process and at some point it’ll pick up- The worse thing I’ve found is to go weeks of not painting - not only is it depressing but it’s better to be doing something - These days I’m happy if I just turn up- if it’s a dud, we’ll then I tried- I got out, that’s enough- being out in Nature painting a dud is better than sitting at home thinking about it- and I’ll go out and do it again next day, then the next day - this way the fear begins to recede and and it all feels part of the process. Also, I’ve found posting on PO helps enormously and it’s amazing how others see your work- and always useful positive feedback - I don’t know what others do when this happens but am always interested to hear.. P.S I had a painting friend who has now passed and she’d always say ‘ when you feel like your going backwards, your actually going forward, like the wheels on a fast car- I like that, and always try and remember it…..

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Sorry my comment was nearly as long as your blog! Thanks again xx

Ahh Sarah - well I’m so glad you did pick up painting again as it’s always lovely to see your work- and thank you for commenting - Xx

Really enjoyed reading this Rachel - it's good to hear how you deal with the inevitable (for us all) dips in confidence. I make myself switch mediums or do more drawing when my paintings aren't working - drawing usually makes me feel better and I don't do enough anyway! Incidentally, I lost confidence for about 20 years and stopped painting and drawing completely- it was only when my mum died that I thought to get my act together as life is too short! I only ever showed my work to a trusted friend before I joined this site last year, so it was a big leap for me! Thanks again, happy painting and best wishes from me.