View Full Version : 2008: Worst Stinker & Best of the Year -- let's see 'em!

12-28-2008, 06:33 PM

Painting is quite an adventure. Sometimes, no matter what we do, regardless of how beautiful a ref is, we turn out 'stinkers'. And at other times a painting "paints itself" and we're really happy with it.

It would be fun if you'd join me in showing your worst horror/stinker/"educational" painting or sketch, and the one you feel most happy about. One of each. (Hard, I know, but let's keep it to one of each.)

Here is one sketch that makes me cringe, possibly the worst of 3 candidates:

The ref showed a beautiful waterfall with fantastic depth... :o

Equally hard to choose the one I like best, as I tend to 'be in love' with the latest one. It may not be my best one, technically or artistically, but I'm very pleased with how the Doggie turned out, as it was my first dog, and it was really fun to do:


So, 'fess up, which is your worst, and the one you like best?

And may 2009 be a veritable cornucopia of masterpieces, for us all!


12-28-2008, 06:53 PM
Charlie, interesting thread! I, personally, would be quite happy with your "stinker"! It is probably better than my "best"!

Alas, 2008 was not a very productive year for me, having done only 5 pastels :( . So, with such a limited output (and hopefully no stinkers in that small group) I will refrain from choosing my best, either.

Your dog is very beautifully done! A good choice!


12-28-2008, 07:33 PM
Have I got a stinker for you!

I had such high hopes for this the moment I saw the scene. It was a setup of chairs on an outcropping of grass that overlooks a valley, of sorts. An outdoor wedding had finished a bit earlier and now I was there with the sun getting lower, shining through the trees and lighting up spots on the grass and on the chairs. It was so beautiful. The title even popped into my head, "Bearing Witness", because of all the empty chairs overlooking the valley, but no people, plus when the people were there, they bore witness to the wedding.

Then I had to tackle those chairs! :eek: OMG, I hated them! I didn't want to draw each and every leg and back, and seat! So I was trying to just see shapes and that overwhelmed me too. Oh well. Such a long story for such a miserable painting. The dark trees on the right aren't quite so dark IRL.


Do we have to pick a best? I'd probably pick this:


Like Don, I think your worst is pretty darn good Charlie. And your doggie is so cute. Thanks for starting this thread - it's somewhat cathartic!


12-28-2008, 08:09 PM
Charlie, I'll be honest and agree about the waterfall. However, Terri, I think the chairs are way cool. I don't feel it for the horizontal arch through the center, but I really like the rest of it.

My worst may well have been yesterday's efforts that I don't really intend to photograph, but I had a string of bad ones with that batch of bad Wallis paper I got earlier this fall.

I'll leave posting for tomorrow. Don't hold me to it!

12-28-2008, 10:31 PM
OK, in my case the stinker is...without a doubt, this beach painting...i hate the look, it seems like a caricature to me.


And the one i'm most proud of is the portrait of my deceased grandfather, Virgilio (God bless him)...by the way it was very cathartic for me to do this painting, it helped me finally accept his departure and make my peace with it. Art is a wonderful thing on so many levels...




CM Neidhofer
12-29-2008, 03:58 PM
This was probably the worst I've posted this year. From the May Pastel Strokes thread. Very flat looking and definitely not a masterpiece! :p


and my best...Nectarines, from the April Pastel Strokes. This was selected for a 2009 calendar page at ArtWanted.com. I should be receiving my copies of the calendar in the next few days.



CM Neidhofer
12-29-2008, 04:01 PM
Charlie, your doggy is absolutely the BEST!! :clap: :clap:

I think this thread should be stickied so we can all find it. Stickied...is that a word?? Sticky-ed??? lol Anyway....


12-29-2008, 04:30 PM
Just love, love the puppy. Great expression, beautiful colors.

Okay - I'll do it. :o My worst (that I didn't recycle) was this marina at Rockford Bay. Didn't like all the horizontal lines right in the middle. The composition was awful. I don't know why I even photographed it.

Having trouble with the download feature, so I'm attaching these.

My favorite was one of my grandson Keith David (Budding Wildlife Expert) surveying the ducks in a pond in Colorado. It went together quickly and as though it were inspired. Wish they were all like that. 11x14 on Wallis, various nupies and softies.

Donna T
12-29-2008, 04:42 PM
Charlie, that waterfall is way better than any of my water attempts so far! I kind of like it with a few inches cropped off the top. That puppy melts my heart every time I look at it. The urge to reach through the monitor and pet his soft belly is overwhelming. :)

Terri, um, we were supposed to post stinkers and I think you might have put your wedding scene in by mistake. I love the light coming through the opening in the trees and the light on the chairs, especially those in the bottom foreground, is just incredible! What if you took out some of that retaining wall and let the light spill in without that division? I love your twisted tree and that pink-purple background is the best.

Annette, I can't comment on the beach ... I am water-challenged but it's good that you want to improve in that area. You did a wonderful portrait of your grandfather and I really like the kindness in his eyes.

Christy, two very different still life styles. Your "stinker" looks bold and graphic to me (I like it!) and your nectarines are luscious. Congrats on the calendar!

OK, here's my stinker. My first attempt at an abstract. Ick! It has already been put out of its misery in the woodstove! :evil:
Sorry about that ... :lol:

I won Best in Show at a juried show with this one in November so I guess it must be one of my good ones. I am very grateful for the help I received when I posted it here.

12-29-2008, 05:27 PM
Donna - I remember that lovely scene when you posted it. Yes, it is a goodie! But, you know what, your abstract reminds me of a jazz club for some reason. :lol:
Annette - Your grandfather has such a sweet and serene expression. I can see why it did you good to do it.
Christine - your peaches definitely look good enough to eat. :p

12-29-2008, 05:42 PM
Hi, this *is* fun! The 'stinkers' are the best part! There is a retrospective thread coming up soon, so please post whatever is relevant in that one even if it is already posted here.

Don, you should get out your pastels more often! Only 5? Not a statiscally reliable sample, no. I'm in the vicinity of 70, sketches included... but, I've focused solely on pastels.

Terri, wow! your 'stinker' is a winner (as a Best!), the chairs work really well. I'm positive you can finish it beautifully, and I do hope you do! Seems to me you mostly got fed up with it just a wee bit too early, as there are only finishing strokes left to do. Your best is wonderful, the twisted tree seems to dance.

Bonnie, I hope you post yours, and thank you for the honesty (I cringe every time I look at it, no redeeming qualities at all...).

Annette, aw, your stinker has a charm to it. And your grandfather, you have caught him beautifully, he looks like a wise and gentle soul, makes me think of Gandhi, with that inner goodness.

Christine, the kiwi are nearly there. Another case of giving up before the finishing strokes? But the peaches, wow! they're glorious! Congratulations to getting them into the calendar!

Harriett, yes, the stinker is a bit bland... How often doesn't that happen, that we're somewhere beautiful, and we shoot pictures, and then they're nothing special. I guess it is because the camera doesn't catch the ambience. The Budding Wildlifer is gorgeous! Wonderful light!

Donna, don't tell me you burned that abstract! Looks like two kids about to kiss on a rave party, and it is strong and bold. Not your usual, but actually, it is rather cool. (OK, I lack the abstract gene, so what do I know?) I remember the meadow, and its transformation from pretty to beautiful. Congratulations to the BiS!

You guys are great!


Barbara WC
12-29-2008, 05:45 PM
Wow. Even the worsts here look pretty good to me! And the bests are terrific!

What is interesting is that with the worsts that almost everyone has posted, there is an accompanying story of frustrations- most associated with some difficulty you had while painting. I had a watercolor teacher that told us that sometimes when we don't like a painting, especially when it is a decent painting, what we are reacting to is the emotion of the difficulties we experienced while painting. Another person will see the painting after it's finished and may think it's good because they didn't experience your frustration. I personally think that all the worsts here are decent! The same watercolor teacher told me to put those worsts in the closet for a year. When you take them out, you may not love them, but they probably won't be as bad as you thought after you finished them!

I only have a 3 pastels under my belt, so will refrain from posting- maybe I'll post next year!


Donna T
12-29-2008, 05:59 PM
Harriett, I do so many landscapes like your first one. If only we could make our cameras produce perfect compositions. The one of your grandson is so nice and I love the way the trees in the background stay back!


Karen Margulis
12-29-2008, 09:05 PM
What a fun thread! Thanks for getting it going Charlie. I am enjoying the year in review and the stories behind our winners and losers. I have to agree that the losers look good to me! I just checked my blog and in 2008 I posted 375 paintings. :eek: I guess I was busy! There are many, many losers so it was hard to choose just one! Here is one I'd like to do a better job with. The lupines are just too regular looking.
My very favorite is this painting of my siamese cat Tobi. It is 16x20 which is large for me and it won an honorable mention at the Southeastern Pastel Society's International show.

Adriana Meiss
12-29-2008, 10:37 PM
Charlie,Thanks for starting this interesting thread.
So far the stinkers do not look stinkers at all to me; a little bit of work and they will look great, but I do understand that when we've made our minds about something, it's tough to see things differently.

Anyway, here are mine.
I was sorry my stinker turned out so. I had high hopes for it.

My best, is a pic I studied for a whole year. Once I was ready to start it, everything went well. I recently sold it and somehow it hurt a little bit to see it go. Why is this my best? I experimented with some colors I rarely use and worked with a limited palette, also, I felt I was in charge, not the photo dictating what to do.

12-29-2008, 11:15 PM
Karen - I rather like the lupins. Of course, Tobi is absolutely gorgeous.
Adriana - What did you name your best? It is very mysterious looking.

Charlie - The marina pic is actually a plein aire. What I meant was, why take a photo of a painting I don't even like! I just didn't pick out a good spot to sit, I think. :wink2: Either that or I should have focused on a smaller vignette instead of painting everything that was there.

Adriana Meiss
12-30-2008, 12:11 PM
Harriette, my best is titled "Island Trees" . I really wanted "Island Pines", but those are spruces and "Island Spruces" didn't sound good.
I didn't even consider my plein air work for stinkers. I have plenty of stinkers in that category!

12-31-2008, 08:04 PM
Oh my Charlie you would bring this up :eek: well let me think, this may take some thought, as I have had some real stinkers :o and them well some really nice ones too :D . Ok here is my worst I think lol
and this is my best

12-31-2008, 10:30 PM
Scotty, I like your stinker. I think it just needs a little more time.

Jo Castillo
01-01-2009, 12:28 AM
This is a fun thread, thanks, Charlie.

My studio stinkers resulted in no photos. This plein air was a mess. Such a beautiful day, friend and scene and I could not simplify or do justice to it. About 9 x 12. Sigh...


I like the way this turned out. It was a few photos put together. It is 12 x 12 inches on Pastelbord.


Charlie, I loved that doggie when I saw it the first time. Congrats. The waterfall looks unfinished only..... Nice color. :)

Terri, I like the stinker, you know we would. Nice work on all those chairs. The old twisted tree is beautiful, I like the complements used.

Annette, lovely memory of your grandfather. Nice work. The beach looks a little like folk art, just a different style for you, right?

Christine, nice work and congratulations on the Nectarines. The other has a little Cezanne look to it. :)

Harriett, We all pick a scene like that sometimes, good job on what you did. Your grandson is just so special, lovely.

Donna, sorry you destroyed the jazz club .. I love red and blue. :) Your landscape is lovely and the reward is well deserved. :clap:

Karen, what a productive year you have had. The lupines look like Colorado?? Your Tobi is just so beautiful. Congratulations.

Adriana, your road looks like a movie scene. Your "Island Trees" is lovely and well done. Nice.

Scottyarthur, I love your bold colors in both. Nice work on the aspens.

Happy to find this thread at the end of the year. Hope to see more! Happy New Year you all!!

Donna T
01-01-2009, 09:07 AM
Charlie, I forgot to thank you for starting this. It has got me thinking about my "stinker." I think I hated it so much because it just wasn't me. Maybe as an abstract it was OK but as one of my works it just didn't fit. It was like having someone else's piece in with my own and it seemed wrong.:eek:

Karen, My husband was looking over my shoulder when I had your lupine painting up. We both love it! I remember seeing Tobi; a beautiful, sensitive portrait.

Adriana, Maybe you could play with your road scene just to see if you could make it into something you like. Add some trees to the field or the top of a house over the hill. This has possibilities! Your best is gorgeous and I hope you have submitted it to some juried shows! The mood and the mist are incredible!

Scott, I can see why you had trouble with your first one - that's a tough perspective. I love those tall trees in your best! The light blue areas give the feel of light coming through the dense forest.

Jo, I have a stack of plein airs that look a lot like yours. Sometimes the scene is just too pretty and I can't decide what to focus on. Your best is a beauty! I really like how you did the foreground, in addition to those trees and the gorgeous colors you used.


01-10-2009, 06:23 PM
You can all send your worst paintings to me! I would be proud to hang them all on my wall. Of course, I'd take your best paintings too.:evil: I want to learn landscapes one of these days.

This is my worst painting. I just couldn't make it come together right and ended up making ugly mud. May give it another try someday.

I have two that I think tied for best last year, so I did eenie, meanie, miney, moe and the one below won:


01-10-2009, 07:11 PM
Hi guys!

Scotty, that's no stinker! It probably only needs another paper that'll take more layers. The best is wonderfully dramatic with those deep darks and the light verticals.

Jo, had I painted that plein air I'd be extatic! The best is gorgeous!

Binkie, aw, the mother and child is sweet, and you have some gorgeous colours in her skin. The best is very dramatic, gorgeous crop!

Donna T, I think I get what you're talking about. If it feels that wrong, it can be better to not have it in one's life. Like getting a stone out of the shoe.


Donna T
01-10-2009, 08:39 PM
Binkie, at least your people look like people! That's a mother-child portrait worth trying again. Your best is a knockout! I don't remember seeing it here before but the texture of the skin is amazing ... and the stubble of the beard looks so real.


Jo Castillo
01-11-2009, 10:02 PM
Binkie, that is a gorgeous best. Nice work. Your worst looks like a good start, I envy you as a portraitist. Sigh.....

01-31-2009, 03:48 PM
I think Crimson Door is my worst. I wasn't too crazy about how the bush/vine turned out. It's not really bad just the worst.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Jan-2009/3341-TheCrimsonDoorwip4_7-6-2008_5-22-04_PMWC.JPG
The Shadowed Door is definitely my best painting so far.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Jan-2009/3341-TheShadowedDoorDoneMd.jpg

01-31-2009, 05:45 PM
Hi Tammy, ooooo yes, the blue door is gorgeous, and the red door is nearly there, looks mostly like you got tired of it and didn't do those last finishing strokes.


Jo Castillo
01-31-2009, 06:42 PM
Tammy, I agree with Charlie that the red door just looks unfinished. The blue door is very nice. Very representational of New Mexico.

Lynne Vokatis
02-23-2009, 03:36 PM
I just started getting back into painting in 2008 after a long break,,,since 2002.I always enjoyed pastels in the past and wanted get get back into them again.Unfortunatly its like trying to run a race when you havent even been walking. heres my stinker.... the boats are just...i dont know...too much like a photo...not like betsys boats..I love that post.my fav is the one i use for an avatar ...but I think my best is the carrying place cove original in oil pastels .it was done very fast and fun on sketch book paper in about 2 hrs and everyone here seems to love it. so here they are :) lynnehttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Feb-2009/173534-IMG_0207.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Feb-2009/173534-IMG_0180.JPG

02-23-2009, 03:51 PM
Lynne, it is so great you've gotten back into painting! The 'stinker' got the atmosphere and feel of the place real well, and it is a nice drawing, though I have to point out the great sense of volume in the trees, those greens really pop. The OP is really a painting -- of the artistic impression of the landscape. It is sort of mystical, too, as there is a path to follow, and where does it lead? It is so lovely, no wonder people oh and ah over it!


Lynne Vokatis
02-23-2009, 11:26 PM
thank you charlie.those trees really bothered me!!!there are very green arent they:o I had a serious case of winter BLAHS when i did this and just wanted to make a pretty picture....ill take it out and play with it again and see what i can do with it. the boats were hard to draw ...i never drew them before!!!
the other one was so great beacuse it was my first one back.i wish i could get this same feel with the soft pastels. im trying wallis sanded paper and I can layer alot and maybe get this feel again.
i really enjoyed looking at everyones work here...i think they(stinkers) were all good in their own way. i really love your beagle.those eyes are unbelievable. so soulfull. lynne

02-25-2009, 09:53 AM
What a fun thread this is! The thing I find fascinating about the "stinkers" is that they really are not bad. Most of them seem like "almost there" paintings, thing that would really be lovely with just a little more work. But sometimes you just reach a snapping point where you just can't seem to bring yourself to do any more work. I guess I'll try to post, but it's *hard*. I had several stinkers to choose from, and also several "bests".

Anyway, 2008 was a year of concentrating on still lifes and landscapes for me, and I've had good paintings and stinkers in both categories. I think I'll pick a landscape for my stinker:


There's just not much I like about this. I'm not happy with the foreground tree, I'm not happy with the background hill. But what I hate the most is the water, especially the shallow water washing up over the wet sand. I just could not get this to look like anything, and finally gave up in disgust.

"Best" is harder to choose. I had a number of pictures I was happy with, but hard to pick a best. But for contrast I guess I will go with a still life. I liked how the jug turned out on this one, and the flowers, and the foreground fabric. But as for it being best? That's really just a coin flip decision.


02-25-2009, 12:05 PM
Best would be hard to choose, though the one below wasn't too bad. As to stinker, it didn't make it past the circular file. I did it with some friends as part of a monthly workshop. When they asked about it, I replied that "I wouldn't waste a refrigerator magent on it"

02-25-2009, 05:21 PM
Debbie, the 'stinker' is lovely, with many good points, just as for the others, it looks like you gave up before it was finished. Shallow water and damp sand is something I've not cracked yet, so I fully understand your frustration. But some things are really good with it, for example the tree linking sky and foreground, and helping set the scale of things. Gorgeous colour in the best one, and personally I think you really made magic with the flowers! One is so clearly behind the other, and less lit too. Jug has a fine volume, and that cast shadow from the red pear is a very cool shape.

Mike, aw, not showing any stinker? So you ruthlessly throw them away? (I keep mine as warning examples, and to feel good about being able to do better... LOL) A beatiful best, you got the clarity and purity of the light very nicely, and I love how the form of the snow flows in a c-shape, leading us to the top.

Thank you both for contributing,

02-25-2009, 06:04 PM
aw, not showing any stinker? So you ruthlessly throw them away? I wish I'd saved it for this, it was BAAAAAD