Hello My Friends; OK, so you have been creating art for a long time now. You are continuing to learn your craft and become very good at it. You have good luck selling your paintings at juried art shows and maybe an online gallery. Even though you are experiencing some degree of success, you still find many paintings in your inventory that do not seem to garner any interest in. I am talking about relatively new pieces, not just the ones many years ago before you knew what shading or perspective was. Well my friends, get used to it.
I forget who said this, I believe it was Botticelli, but I could be wrong. He said, for him, he is lucky if 25% of his work is at an acceptable level. Yes, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Even a well known, very famous painter from the Renaissance era admits that only 25% of his work is worth showing. So, what does that mean to us mortals who have been trying to achieve some greatness in our work? Simple truth is this. We will never achieve greatness.
Creating art, especially paintings is a life time venture with a learning curve that continually moves. Yes, there are many who are very good painters, many who have a vision and can convey that on a support well, but the greatness factor is simply, in my opinion, not achievable. Paintings are too subjective. I personally do not like the Mona Lisa by DaVinci or Starry Night by van Gogh, but both are world famous and bring in ridicules amounts of money.
I am not trying to be negative or even dramatic, but every artist and anyone thinking of becoming an artist needs to understand that reality. Regardless of how good you become over the years, many will love your work and an equal amount of people will hate it. As artists, we need a thick skin to handle the criticism as well as looking at our own art with a critical eye.
Back to the 25% hypothesis. If we as artists look at our art with that ever so important critical eye, we will realize that every attempt we make is not successful. If we are really creating art, we will make attempts at different things with our work. Maybe we try a different color scheme, or composition, different support or maybe a different style to fit a particular composition. We as artists must continually push that envelope and think outside of that comfortable box and take chances. In taking chances, we will experience successes and failures. To be completely truthful, we will have far more failures than successes, but we must continue on and create.
One thing I have found that helps me is to look at a painting that was a failure and try and analyze where it went wrong. Don’t dwell on it, but look at it closely and objectively. If you learn from that failure, then the effort and time it took to create a mess, was actually worth it and may help you turn another potential failure into a budding success.
I have a few favorite artists I admire. Really, none of them are similar in style or subject matter, but there is something very appealing to me. Raphael Sanzio, Norman Rockwell and Edgar Degas. The depth of color in Raphaels work has always amazed me, the cozy and comfortable compositions of Rockwell always made me fell happy and the form of the ballerina captured by Degas with his pastels is simple exciting to me. I would be willing to wager that all three of those, very famous individuals have more artwork we have not seen than the amount they released for public consumption.
Creating a bad painting is not a crime. It does not diminish your standing in the art community and it does not represent your artistic abilities. Show your best work, but keep those failures so you can learn from them. We artists need all forms of education possible in order to create the paintings we can be proud of and will also be appealing to a large audience.
Never be afraid to fail, for each failure is an opportunity to to create a success.