Why I’m Really Pumped About These 5 Soul-Crushing and Immediate Painting Failures

Guys… I haven’t cut/primed a hardboard from scratch since college and boy howdy does it show. Behold, the glory of failure!

So, here it is. I’ve spent about… 1 hour on the actual painting of it so far. We’re only on the under layer.

The culprit at large.

Now let’s pick apart exactly why I can already tell that it sucks!

Failure #5: The edges are uneven and I am too lazy to fix them

It’s really unprofessional. You don’t need to tell me this.

I could go straighten the edges any time I wanted to. Like, that statement isn’t even in an addiction-counselling way. Quite literally I could do it right now, I could just go outside straighten it out  with the jig saw and be satisfied. But the reality is that right now, there are way worse problems I should be worried about.

The thing that I’m pumped about is that I definitely have developed the wisdom to both be able to see my own issues and also prioritize their remedy.


Failure #4: The subject matter is different than anything I’ve done before successfully

I have this really gorgeous photo of golden, fallen leaves in a puddle that reflects the blue of the sky… you know, the kind of image that you could feasibly see yourself selling in a small town?

So pretty! The original, un-filtered version is lovely too in a more demure way.

It’s hard to say, but depending on the success of this new nature-y subject theme, I could potentially end up really thanking myself for branching out beyond “weirder” stuff like space scenes or my apparently unsellable “People Being Really Artsy and Symbolic In Space!” series. I know in my head that continuing my space theme would be a professional choice and demonstrate consistency, which is very marketable….

…But I love nature too! I’m very happy to be painting a nature scene. I might be a young punk who doesn’t know nothin’ about nothin’, so take this next statement with a grain of salt, but I don’t think it’s necessary or even beneficial to corner yourself into consistency to maintain an image of “professional”. I’m pumped to try new things!


Failure #3: I wanted to experiment with a more impasto technique and my goodness, am I bad at it so far

So I like impasto. So I’m definitely far from successful with it so far. So what. I’ll fight anyone.

There are definitely style-naturalists who somehow have come to the conclusion that unless you come across your painting style like flies spontaneously coming into being from rotten meat, you’re “less sincere.” We all have an aesthetic, and we all have to communicate in the way we think is effective. I won’t suddenly become Monet by adopting some impressionist skills because that is literally impossible. Even if I did nothing but study Monet forever, I wouldn’t be able to paint exactly like Monet does. We have different experiences, we are telling different stories.

So, basically, I’m pumped to have some trial-and-error experience with a new technique for the sake of my future paintings because improvement is inevitable and I love the way it looks! (Um, when it’s done successfully, anyway.)


Failure #2: Oh my God I used oil-based primer and it stinks and I can’t scrub it off of my hands and it’s tainted everything within arm’s length and basically I hate everything

This one very simple but very key thing will probably be what ruins this painting beyond repair. I bought “Original Kilz”, the brand of which I’ve definitely used in school before to prime hardboard, but guess what?! I forgot to get the water based kind and now because of 2nd grade chemistry concepts my acrylics aren’t sticking so well. In fact, no matter how thick I layer them, they seem to be crackling when they dry? Give it 10 years and probably it will peel off entirely from the board.


Disgusting! Isn’t it awesome?

…I’m really pumped to learn a bunch of things about exactly how this failure affects a painting on an personal, experimental piece! Maybe the crackle will look cool in the end…? Ok, probably not. Almost certainly not.


Failure #1: Despite all of these things, I have somehow arrived at the conclusion everything might still be ok

I keep thinking, “maybe if I let it dry really well, I can paint on top of this horrid base layer and no one will be the wiser with the result.” This optimism might end up being a failure that wastes even more time, paint, and effort in the end. In fact, if this were a more important piece, it would be more beneficial to give up here and move on. Knowing when to give up, after all, is a very important skill for an artist, and one that I definitely don’t have issues with.

But… I’m also pumped to test my hypothesis and learn from the experiment. After all, whether I’m wrong or right, I’ve learned far more from these failures than I would have if they had happened to go as planned. Failure is an important and necessary part of art. I’m pumped to have learned so much by failing so hard in such a short amount of time.

And you’re welcome, since you’ve now learned from them vicariously.

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