Week 39 - The Uglies

The Uglies...

Have you ever looked at your painting during the early stages and thought, "Yikes, this looks terrible!"? There's a point in every painting where you enter the "ugly"stage. It's halfway between the exciting start and the glorious finish. It's like being lost in a fog. You can't see, or find your way forward. Things look bleak. But don't fret, this is just part of the process,

The uglies, why do they happen?

Before we dive into the strategies to overcome the ugly stage, let's understand why it happens in the first place. The ugly stage is a natural part of the creative process. It occurs when the initial layers of a painting are laid down, and the composition is still taking shape. Colors might look muddy, proportions may seem off, and the overall image can be far from pleasing. Many artists get discouraged at this point and abandon their work. However, with perseverance and the right approach, you can transform your painting into something wonderful.

Embrace the process

Instead of viewing the ugly stage as a setback, embrace it as an essential part of your artistic journey. Understand that every great painting goes through this phase. Remind yourself that it's just a temporary stage. This mindset shift will help you stay motivated and committed to your work.

Take a break

If you're feeling frustrated or stuck in the ugly stage, take a break. Stepping away from your painting for a while can provide a fresh perspective when you return. When you come back to your painting, you'll have a renewed energy to tackle the challenges.

Analyze and problem-solve

When you're ready to confront the ugly stage, analyse your painting objectively. Identify the areas that are not working and try to pinpoint the reasons behind it. Is it the color palette, composition, or brushwork? 

Experiment and make adjustments

One of the advantages of the ugly stage is that it gives you the freedom to experiment. Don't be afraid to make bold adjustments to your painting. Try different color combinations, change the composition, or add new elements. Remember, you're not aiming for perfection at this stage; you're exploring possibilities. By embracing experimentation, you might stumble upon unexpected techniques or ideas that will elevate your painting.

Seek feedback

Getting an outside perspective can be immensely helpful during the ugly stage. Share your work with fellow artists or mentors whose opinion you trust. They can provide valuable feedback and suggestions for improvement. Keep in mind that feedback is subjective, so consider different viewpoints.

Trust the process

As you work through the ugly stage, remember to trust the process. Trust your skills, intuition, and artistic vision. It's easy to get discouraged, but remember that every stroke you make contributes to the final outcome. Stay focused and keep pushing forward, even when it feels challenging. Trust that you will transform your painting into a successful finished piece.

Remember, the ugly stage is just a temporary phase in your artistic journey. Embrace it, learn from it, and keep pushing forward. So, don't give up when things get ugly – the beauty is just around the corner!

1 comment

  • Great to read this. I am working through an ugly stage of a felting painting, almost gave up on it but luckily had some good advice available to give me direction. It is reassuring to read your advice aligns with this recent experience as I have always admired your work. Thank you for sharing.

    Linda Murphy

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