Day 54: The Pain Barrier

Working title "Prima Donna", watercolour painting in progress (?), 22 x 30"

Years ago, I took a pastel workshop with the wonderful pastel artist and teacher Margaret Evans. Of the week's lessons, two nuggets of wisdom really stuck with me. One of these was "You have to work through the pain barrier." Often you come to a point in a painting -- probably a work of art of any kind --  where you don't know what to do, think it's not going to work, think it stinks... That's the pain barrier. You just have to keep going and work through it. I have run into that a lot with this series of paintings of trees. The technique I have been using, involving lots of "randomness," makes it really challenging. (One of the most challenging things is to keep the feeling of randomness!) 

I spent hours on this today, and I thought it was just about done, until I stepped way back to look at it. Now I am not so sure. But it's all I have to show for today.

The other nugget of wisdom, by the way, was the "five-second fiddle" (or maybe it was more than five seconds; I can't remember the exact number!). When a painting is nearing completion, it's tempting to keep adding more details and making adjustments, and it can easily get overworked. Margaret's advice was to allow yourself only a "five-second fiddle," which only gives you time to add one detail where it really matters. Maybe I need to take that advice with this painting too.