View Full Version : anxiety and layers

02-18-2002, 02:32 AM
:cat: :confused:
hi I am new to Wet Canvas and I am very new to oil painting. I've had some success with painting but I find myself getting overwhelmed when I am achieving my goal with my current project. - "I guess I have issues with finishing a painting"
while I build the paint from layer to layer anxiety builds and towards the end of my work I stopped painting because I'm afraid of ruining the work I've done..
I would appreciate any advise
thanks Jim:)

Luis Guerreiro
02-18-2002, 06:09 AM
I suppose we all went through that sort of feeling at some point in time. Don't worry too much. Trial and error is a constant feature of an artists life. I have sent straight to the bin dozens of "not good enough" work, but that's how things get better. Like in cycling, a few falls are the way to get to cycle perfectly well.

Wayne Gaudon
02-18-2002, 08:26 AM
Lack of confidence = fear of failure = minimal adventure in effort.

there is only one way around this .. ruin some .. save some .. when you become confident that you can save the piece no matter what you do to it (and you will) you will lose the fear

.. of course, you will still ruin the occassional canvas .. that's all part of painting .

Keep going, don't let fear stop your progress. You can always make another painting.

02-18-2002, 10:40 AM
i find there are always a bunch of bad or unsuccessful paintings that lead to the ones i am proud of. i try to get the bad ones out of the way. this can even be a fun project: today i will only make bad paintings!

02-18-2002, 10:43 AM
Here's a thread that I can completely identify with. I've been painting for only a couple of months, and have experienced the same feeling when I get something good.

I do have some advice, though........just calm down.

You should see the botch job I'm trying to cover up right now. I started out with a pretty decent underpainting (probably my best work so far), and tried to add flesh tone, and it looks like total doo-doo.

I certainly agree with the other posts here.........ruining paintings is the only way to learn what you don't already know. I've read *SO* many chapters, books, forum threads, etc. on mixing realistic flesh tones, and I still can't do it. There's no substitute for experience. I think of it this way.....I'll have to ruin about 100 paintings before I start doing good work, so each failure means I'm one step closer.

Keep painting.


02-18-2002, 11:40 AM
Well, i guess theres not much i can tell you that hasn't already been said! :) it's perfectly normal to have these fears. Relax, enjoy creating art and don't put unrealistic expectations on yourself. Read as much as you can and experiment. If you make a mess of it just accept that and learn from it. Take notes on why you feel it did or didn't work out. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes for it is through these mistakes that you'll learn. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find that you'll accomplish a great deal more once you stop focusing on doing it perfectly. It's all a part of learning and paying your dues. You'll be fine! The easiest way to ruin the work that you're currently doing is to not finish it out of fear. Even the most experienced artists have pieces that are not what they'd wanted them to be.
Welcome to WC!

02-18-2002, 02:03 PM
this problem was brought up in one of my painting classes years ago, my teacher responded to the student who said the same thing with this...even though i didn't ask the question, i felt her advice was so good that i've never forgotten it...

if you did it once...you can do it again...!

besides...remember painting, especially oil paint--because of drying factors--is a cyclical process. i can not tell you how many times on one painting that i took a layer that i loved and changed it (ruined it...thats what i think when in the middle of this process), only to pull it together better then before. its a progression...the painting process...

learn to trust the process...

02-18-2002, 02:34 PM
COMPLETING a painting is much more the goal than finishing one. A complete painting contains evidence of the three primary colors and a range of values from light thru midtones and dark. These qualities when evident in a painting signify completeness. This is THE goal.
Beginning new paintings has a lot more to offer in inspiration and learning than obsessing about correcting/repairing paintings.
Keep these few facts in mind and complete your paintings. If already painted into a quandry, just move on to starting the next painting.
This is advice from a master painter and teacher. I found it quite valuable and am passing it along.

02-18-2002, 04:45 PM
oh Boy....can I relate....

Jim, I too am just beginning with my adventure into oil painting. Although I have dabbled in other mediums....coloured pencils/pastel/watercolour....

I have come to realize ... the medium doesn't matter ... the process seems to always be the same...

Like yourself I always find myself going through the " anxiety " of getting to the finished product without ruining it somewhere along the way.
Sometimes I have been my own " worst enemy "...
Just recently... have I come to the realization that by " focusing so much on the final result.... I was missing out on the enjoyment of GETTING there."

Most of my works I consider " unfinished".
I keep all of them in my secret gallery " under the bed "... hoping that nobody will come upon them but also hoping that one day I might get around to finishing them.

Until finding Wetcanvas that was the case. Since about November when I luckily stumbled upon WC....I have overcome many " artistic blocks" I can even share my mistakes now...which themselves hold the most valuable lessons. Just be open and willing to learn and it will all FALL INTO PLACE.

I guess what I am saying is... you're NOT alone..but you're in great company.

Learn from your mistakes and be open to receive the vast amount of expertise available to us here @ wetcanvas and you'll be well on your way.

Thanks to the wealth of information so generously available to me here as well as the shared enthusiasm of my new found friends here... I am finally getting it together and enjoying the process " to boot ".

Undoubtedly there will be those failed attempts...but they hold many rewards of their own...
Enjoy the process and PAINT !!!



02-19-2002, 12:05 AM
I spent about 2 years doing watercolors that took me 2-3 weeks each-- glaze after glaze. In comparison to a watercolor, it's almost not possible to ruin an oil. :) (I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have OPAQUE paint. ) But besides switching mediums, I minimize nervousness now by working small and quickly-- which also increases my pace of learning.

I used to be in the software development business, and we used to say that the secret to success in software development is learning to fail faster-- which means, accept that failure WILL happen, that it's just part of the process and necessary to ultimate success. Team A spends 2 years on a project, presents it to the client with a flourish, and it's a flop-- doesn't do the job. Team B whips out a quick and dirty version in a few months, presents it to the client, learns where they failed, re-designs & re-writes, goes through this whole cycle four times, and has a good system up and running in a year. Team A has one failure in two years; Team B has four failures and one success in one year, and is off to spend year 2 on their next success. Failure is the feedback that is necessary to learning. In any endeavor, the person who fails most often and the person who succeeds most often are usually the SAME person-- which is whoever is making the most attempts and learning fastest.

Happy painting!

02-28-2002, 10:53 PM
An idea I haven't seen mentioned in this thread is that one of the the hardest things about painting is knowing when to STOP. It takes time and experience. So perhaps your "issues" with finishing a painting are just natural instinct kicking in. Try not to make it too perfect, loosen up, let a mess be a mess at times, you will learn more from that than trying to take everything to the perfect finish. Don't agonize over the details on that last hand, or tree, or piece of fruit. Walk away from the canvas (for hours or days if necessary) when the pressure is intense, come back later and you may like what you see. Take it from someone who couldn't finish an early (commissioned...EGAD!) portrait for weeks, worrying about one small element that took a few minutes to "finish". All the while enduring comments from friends and family-- "When is that thing going to be done?!" :D

Good luck to you in all your creative endeavors!


03-02-2002, 03:53 PM
When you have a doubt I suggest you give yourself this test!

Remove the painting from the easel and put it in the garage for three months. Then take it out and look at it.

Is it something you want to hang on your wall and show your friends? If not....fix it or paint over it with gesso. A third course would be to put it for sale in some garage sale/swap mart and try to make a few bucks to buy more supplies.

YOu must learn to be your own critic. Only YOU know your standards! I might shout hooray at your offering and you would think it atrocious or vv. I would hate to think of the number of paintings that have gone on the painting bench and got sanded off and painted over. It's part of learning the craft. Except it. If you can't concieve of "killing your children" then you had better have a hell of a large store place to put all your mistakes.


03-04-2002, 07:42 AM
JimBob, I like Myle's quote:

"If you can't conceive of "killing your children" then you had better have a hell
of a large store place to put all your mistakes.


JimBob, The advice I would give a beginner is to buy supports that you have no reluctance to destroy. Perhaps instead of buying nice pristine canvases and then feeling badly about chucking them in the garbage when the results are less than expected, you might try one of the canvas pads. Bienfang makes the best one and then when things don't work out, you can rip and toss, without needing a garbage compactor. Less bulk, less guilt.

If you pull off a winner, you can always mat it, glass it and frame it!

You'll toss more than you'll keep till you get great at what you do. It's a given. Allow yourself that and get on with it. Good luck.


03-04-2002, 08:37 AM
if you do find yourself having to throw out, " toss" or destroy any works that have been done on a pre-stretched canvas ... remember ...

you can always remove the canvas from the stretchers and at least save those for the day when you might find yourself buying canvas " by the roll " .
They are usually just " chucked out " with the failed work of art.

Just a thought that may save you some cash. :p