Let’s investigate this a bit….
What is the “Artist Curse”?
The artist’s curse, as I understand it, “is a problem some artists (including me) suffer from, where upon completing a painting, they are unable to completely separate themselves from the painting process, and thus unable to properly appreciate the illusion of reality that the painting conveys” a quote from artist Dan Johnson. Believing your own work to be sub-par, even if it isn’t, simply because you notice imperfections that no one else will.
“Almost There” Signed but Not Finished!
Recently, I have heard mention of this from some beautiful and talented artist. I found that it is not uncommon and happens to most artists at some time or another. Is it simply the reason that some artists do not finish a piece of work or the reason that some artists return to a piece later and see it in a totally different light? “My favorite expression is…”no painting is ever finished; it just stops in interesting places. I really do have a tendency to stop too early and leave important details unresolved. So I go back to the paintings in my studio from time to time and things jump out at me that would make them stronger. Such is the process. Usually the overall approach is to lighten the lights, and darken the darks. Just getting the values right is a very big deal.” a quote from artist Bob Snider.
An Ah-Ha moment!
I like that…but is that considered part of the curse? I am actually glad there is a name for what happens to me when I feel that the painting is not finished or is not to my liking. Here is a clear example with a piece of art that I had done many years ago and just recently looked at it with a different eye and decided what it was that I did not like and wanted to rework.
What other artist are saying…
Artist Nancy Reynor says “there are three phases to a painting, the beginning, continuing and completion. Well, no kidding! But then came the statement that was truly profound. She said: The Beginning = Freedom, The Continuing = Faith, and The Continuing = Healing. For example, if you are in the Faith mood and attempt Healing…it could possibly ruin your painting. To watch her video on this subject please visit her on You-Tube. They are worth watching and she explains this theory.
Back to our question…is it a curse or a pause?
In the moment that I feel a painting is not working for me or that I feel it might be finished, I usually decide to either sign it or not….walk away and take a “pause” from it. Now this pause may be days, weeks, or even years but now I have found that I usually do come back to it. Another example of this was with a tutorial painting I began when I first started painting many years ago. I could not do it and so it was put in the closet and suddenly, after 8 years, I decided to finish it. I am glad I did because I really love this little painting now of my “Red Shed”.
I like to think that it is not a curse but just a time to reflect on what we are painting and as we progress in our craft we become much more discerning. Never let it get the best of you! Take a “pause” from your piece and just say “Almost There”!
I hope this article has been helpful for you as an artist. If you would like to leave me a comment in my Disqus comment section at the bottom of this article, please do! I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.