I have been trying for the past week and a half or so to try to get another painting out and it just doesn’t seem to be working. Not that I haven’t done some painting. I’ve actually done two small paintings. But, I just wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, so they became what Carol Marine likes to call “wipers.” And it’s just one canvas.
First, I tried to do a palette knife painting of a sailboat. Things went along fine for about the first half of the painting, but then it just seemed to fall apart. I couldn’t figure out what to do to make it better. I went to bed thinking it might look better in the morning.
Fat chance. Not only did it NOT look better, I thought it looked worse. So, out came the Bob Ross #10 palette knife and I scraped the whole thing off and wiped it down with paper towels and thinner. Hence the term “wipers.”
So, I let the canvas sit on my easel for a few days and this evening decided to try again. Something completely different from what I’m used to trying. I decided an old world style outdoor painting of some villa was in order. I kind of like the works of Dreama Tolle Perry, so I used one of her paintings as a reference.
After about two hours I called it finished and waited until my sweetie came home so she could weigh in on it. Her response? “Ehhh. That told me all I needed to know. The Bob Ross #10 came out again and with a few swipes of the blade the canvas was devoid of another painting.
Now, lest you think I was upset or depressed because of her reaction, let me assure you that I wasn’t too impressed with it either. Before she even got to see it.
So, the canvas is a warm brownish orange again and in a couple of days will ready for a third attempt at getting something onto this canvas. Why am I so keen to get something of worth on this particular canvas? I found a really nice frame the other day, built for a 10×10 inch painting and made a special trip to Aaron Brothers to buy a 10×10 inch canvas. Those canvases are not very easy to come by in that size, so come hell or high water, I’m going to come up with something that I think is worthy of being in a nice frame.
As for wiping down a canvas when they don’t come out the way you’d like, this is something a lot of artists struggle with. They will work for hours on a painting and even when it becomes clear to those around them that the painting is heading south fast, they think they can salvage it with just a few more brush strokes. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it is better to put down the brushes (or knives in my case) and step away from the easel.
There is one artist/teacher out there and I’m sorry but I forget his name, who takes “wipers” to a whole new level. When he teaches a workshop, no matter how many days it is, he tells his students to bring ONE canvas with them. Then, each day his students work their hearts out on their masterpieces, putting their souls into these paintings. Then towards the end of the day the teacher tells them to take all the photos they want of their creations. After a few minutes he has them pick up a palette knife and scrape off every single dollop of paint from their canvases.
I’ve heard tales of some of the students wanting to take those palette knives to the teacher to defend their work, but they end up scraping the canvases down, wiping them down with thinner and paper towels and preparing them for the next day.
What is the point of this little exercise? To teach the students to NOT get too caught up in the painting that is on the easel. If it was truly a masterpiece, then the student has a photographic reference of the painting and can recreate it if they really want to when they get home. I think what these students learn is that if they were capable of painting one good painting, then they are capable of painting another one. Each day they would scrape down this one canvas until the very last day of the workshop and they would find that the last painting they did (and wouldn’t be asked to scrape) was even better than the first one.
This is why I don’t fret over having to scrape down a painting that didn’t come out the way I had planned. I have some really good paintings still inside me and if the one that is currently on the canvas doesn’t light my fire, then it needs to make room for the next one. So check back soon to see what will finally make the grade and be worthy of the nice frame I have waiting for it.