Perception vs Reality

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It’s pretty nice, after years of hard work, to be in a place as a professional artist where I’ve reached a level of self-confidence and assurance knowing that every time I touch a paint-loaded brush to canvas, it is a masterstroke. The failures and struggles of the amateur have been left far behind.

Well, that does seem to be the perception of those outside the artist’s studio. The phrase “perception is reality” is certainly a lie and not one I embrace or have experienced.

I was raised in a household of rules, one of those rules being, “If you begin a project you better do it to the best of your ability and make sure you complete it.” It’s a good rule and has served me well, but when it comes to painting, sometimes it’s best to junk the project and begin afresh. It’s still a very difficult thing for me to do. Some paintings hang around the studio for months, sometimes years, as I fret over how to complete them to the best of my ability.

Some years ago, one such painting so stressed me out that my wife secretly took it from my studio and burned it. I was not a happy camper upon that discovery. Now, I look back and realize in her wisdom and concern for me, she did me a favor.

“Coastal Light” 24″ x 40″ – Oil…Three years on this one with many rub-outs, redraws, and compositional changes.


Have I learned my lesson? My wife would say, “Probably not.” A case in point, a painting, recently completed, was in process, on-and-off, for three years…lots of rub-outs, redraws, and compositional changes just added to the stress and uncertainly. But, by golly, I stuck with it, determined to finish it to the best of my ability.

Are you like me? Hopefully you have more sense and freedom to discard and begin anew when things aren’t going well. However, as a cautionary note, I would suggest not giving up too quickly. There is value in sticking with something when things get tough. The easy solution is to give up too soon. Remember, problem solving is a huge part of our growth as artists.


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