What to do with a painting that went wrong . A look at some ways to rectify the situation before giving up altogether.

It happens to everyone.

Sometimes a painting just doesn’t turn out the way we hoped, and seems to be a lost cause. And sometimes it really is, and we can just put it down to practice and experience and move on. {No mean self-directed comments about being a crap artist please. I’m pretty sure even Michelangelo had his off days.}

But other times there are things we can do to save our work.

The first question to always ask when things start going awry, is:

Is this just the Ugly Phase?

Show me a painter who doesn’t know from personal experience what I mean by that term and I’ll conjure a unicorn from thin air.

If it is simply that you have reached the Ugly Phase then that is good news; once you get past the initial ‘this is a disaster… what the hell do I do now?’, it is great practice in trusting the process and adding persistence and patience to your repertoire of worthy values. πŸ˜‰

If your painting is on paper it’s perfect; just cut it into smaller pieces and make cards or other kinds of mini art from it {ATCs, affirmation or inspiration cards, tags for gifts etc}.

There is something about a disaster painting cut into smaller pieces that suddenly renders each one beautiful.

cards from disaster paintings

gorgeous simple cards from paintings I wasn’t happy with

If your painting is on a stretched canvas, you may like to consider gessoing over the entire thing and using whatever you already have down as a textural starting point.

gesso rescues a disaster

there’s a whole painting under here

And you know what? Sometimes it’s ok to just bin it.

My art teacher at school always told us never to throw any of our work away, and up to a point there is value in keeping it to see your progress, or use as inspiration later on.

But if you’re just too bummed out with it, and there’s no inspiration to save it, let it go.

It’s just a painting. You can always do another one.