Dealing With Disappointments

Morning Walk Photo ©Beth Cole

Morning Walk Photo ©Beth Cole

Dealing With Disappointments

by Beth Cole

I was reading an article in Tabletalk magazine recently about disappointments in life and how we shouldn’t be surprised by them because the world in which we live is not perfect and WE certainly aren’t perfect. The article is much deeper than this and I thought it quite helpful. I mention it because I believe the principles also apply to art or any creative endeavor, as well as to our attitude about ourselves and our relationships.

I am sometimes disappointed by the work I create, not because I am not trying my hardest, but because making art is challenging and the canvas doesn’t always live up to the vision I have in my mind.  With the vision comes expectations. And when my expectations aren’t met…..disappointment. See the cycle?

The longer I paint, the more I realize how much emotional energy is required to bring the vision to life. These are the questions that are constantly rolling around in my head as I paint – is this too light? Too dark? Do I need more cool? More warm? Is this shape too big? Too small? And I am constantly comparing things to each other and to my inspiration photo. I don’t want to COPY my photo, I want to make a painting. So in addition to answering my questions, I am also reaching into the vault of imagination and memory to pull out the perfect something which the painting needs.

At the end of the day, it has been a mental workout to say the least. And sometimes, the canvas doesn’t yield a beauty equal to what I hold in my mind, those expectations, right? So. Yes. Sometimes I am disappointed. You, too?

But that doesn’t mean I quit or give up and throw something across the room and I hope you don’t either.

It means I try to learn from what’s not working. This is what I have tried.

I usually set the painting aside and come back to it in a few days or a week. Time is such a gift.

I often look at it in the mirror because my eye will see things differently there. I don’t know why this works, but it does.

I always take a photo of it because it will show me things, I can’t see face on, plus I can turn it to black and white and see if I have a value problem. Remember value does all the work and color gets the glory!

I share my work with trusted artist friends and with my husband. Another set of eyes does wonders.

If all else fails, I get out the gesso and start over. Ahhhhh. A clean slate.

How do you deal with disappointments? 

Soli Deo Gloria