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. ;)

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.


The Creative Spark ecourse is available to begin right now! Six weeks of creative inspiration, exploration and encouragement. It might be just what you need to rediscover your creative artist self, especially if you’ve been estranged from her {or him!} for a long time. If you feel nervous, blocked or otherwise uncertain about your capabilities, I made this course for you, and I’d love you to come along for the ride. All my courses come with an invitation to join my cosy Facebook group for alumnae, so you won’t be doing it alone. Unless you want to of course. :)

For full information and to enroll, CLICK HERE.

Hello artist friend!


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