Art Hell 2

My cat, Saphie, surrounded by torn up drawing.

My cat, Saphie, surrounded by torn up drawing.

“This is the end, my only friend, the end…” (The Doors).

“Waaahhhh!”  (That’s me crying.)  Well, not really, but I am sad.  I worked so hard at a  drawing for nearly three weeks – all in vain.  Tonight after trying EVERYTHING to solve the problems, I finally put myself and the drawing out of our miseries by tearing up the offending piece.  I had intended to photograph it for a post but I’m not courageous enough to share a failure with you (except when it is ripped up).

It is a peculiar thing as the drawing, which I had called “Sakura at Dusk”, started off so well.  Two weeks ago when I wrote about my drawing”Rare View” I said that it took me a long time to connect with that piece.  I had been about three quarters of the way through the drawing before I really began to enjoy it.  “Sakura at Dusk” was the opposite experience.  I loved working on it right from the start.  It was one of my blurry type of drawings with most of it being out of focus and just some sakura (cherry blossom) in the foreground in focus.  So I merrily worked away on it and it seemed that it effortlessly finished itself.  I put it up on the easel and was satisfied…that is… until I wasn’t!

The more I looked at it, the more I adjusted it.   The more I adjusted it, the more I wasn’t happy.  This state of affairs went on for days.  During that time I wrote last week’s post “Art Hell”.  Mentally the drawing went from being called “Sakura at Dusk” to “Art Hell”.  As I got more agitated, it became less and less “Sakura at Dusk” until its title totally turned into “Art Hell”.

I had overworked “Sakura at Dusk/Art Hell” until the colours had turned muddy with layering.  And all the way through I couldn’t make up my mind.  One minute I’d think ‘ah ha – THAT’S fixed it’.  Next I’d think ‘wow, it’s beautiful’.  Then I would look again and know that it really wasn’t.   I had to keep trying because, while I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it either, not while there was hope of redemption.  At least in the end (tonight) I knew that I really DID hate it.  Out damn spot!!!

I had a lot of pleasure working on the drawing as well as miles of frustration and some anguish.  After many hours of work I don’t have anything to show for it.  However I now put this behind me and look ahead.  What’s next?  I began a new piece the other day.  I will ‘keep calm and carry on’ as they say.  At least – I’ll look for calm.   Where is it?  I must have put it somewhere.  When I locate it, I’ll attempt to keep it – and then I’ll carry on.

Ripped drawing on the floor.

Ripped drawing on the floor.

Related post:  Art Hell         Related page:  Failures!

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About juliepodstolski

I am a realist artist who works in coloured pencils.
Image | This entry was posted in art, artist anxiety, coloured pencils, personal history and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Art Hell 2

  1. Thelma Cluning says:

    Please, please, please keep those beautiful pieces and consider positioning them into another (new?) approach to the same subject Julie – perhaps looking at the section being behind (tear the top section to reveal the ‘offending’ panel) and rework the subject in a fresh way. Or just simply keep the pieces safe – dust off the cat fur – until they can perform a different role than that was first intended! Great to read your blog, take care until we meet again some lovely day.

  2. Ann Kullberg says:

    Amazing post….I love your painting, even torn up. I would love to see it almost put back together, mounted and re-titled…even if it’s re-titled to “Art Hell”

  3. Donna says:

    LOL, I love the mosaic idea, too. 🙂

  4. Frankly, I don’t see anything really wrong with it. I wish you hadn’t ripped it. 😦

    I make it a habit to NEVER rip anything up. If I’m unhappy with something I’ll put it away and take it out sometime in the future when I’m not so attached to it.

  5. Malcolm says:

    Some lucky person at the recycling plant is going to find something to keep. I only wish my trashed pieces were as good as the torn edges on yours

    best wishes


  6. Malcolm says:

    Perhaps I should have qualified my first comment by saying that someone at the recycling plant who enjoys jigsaw puzzles is in for a treat/


  7. Ahhhh good to see that Im not the only one who does this with their work! Shame though as beautifully executed – think maybe the ripping up is kind of therapeutic??? I agree with the post from Ann – think put together and displayed as ” Art Hell ” is so suitable! xxx

  8. Virginia says:

    Whenever I go through the frustration of working on a drawing for a long period of time and end up hating it (and tearing it up) I remember the words of a wise person that once said,
    ” Remember that nothing would get done at all if a person waited until he could do it so well that no one could find find fault with it.”
    I do not know if it applies to your fabulous art work, but it makes sense to me.

  9. Ewoodham says:

    I can’t believe you ripped it up!!! Your art hell is still magnificent.

  10. Thank you all for your support and ideas on what I could do with the scraps. I’ve always worked this way, getting rid of what doesn’t measure up. The only difference is that now I have a blog so I’m not ripping up in silence so to speak. Nowadays I can be noisy about it!
    I let my husband have a small area of the sakura as he said he wanted to keep it. So that little portion of drawing is sellotaped to the wall beside his desk. He says he’s happy as that is the bit he wanted.

  11. It’s a brave thing to do, to make that final decision to rip up – but it can be liberating too! Its important not to be precious about one’s work. I do agree with others though, that something can sometimes be done with parts of a failed artwork – glad your husband got to keep a little piece! (I think you and I have similar taste in music, Bowie and the Doors are regulars on my playlists!)

  12. that is a beautiful cat you have !!! I once had an oil painting of an iris I wasn’t happy with so I cut it in squares, and glued them on a piece of mdf, mixed all the squares so you couldn’t make the picture as it was, I first painted the mdf white, then I glued the squares on and….everybody loved it !

  13. claudia woodroffe says:

    julie, julie julie, next time please give me your art-hell pieces. Before you tear them up xxx
    I promise you they would be for my own personal “torment” (ha ha) As I am not an artist, in exchange, I would give you all the quilts I’ve started but didn’t finish because I took so long doing them, eventually I didn’t like them at all 🙂 Saphie would love to sit on them I’m sure.

  14. Ah, I think I see where you began to go wrong from the ripped up fragments. Your sakura were likely much lighter to begin with, but when you added depth they became a muddled mess, right? What should have been glowing a rosy pinkish-white in the dark turned into an overcast bunch of petals (/.\)! My condolences to you and your sanity.

    In high school my friend (who taught me many techniques to use with pencil crayons) always told me: if you mess up, the white one can fix it! I never really used the white pencil crayon before this since I always used white paper and saw no need in using a color that didn’t need to be there. Once I was shown the way of the white pencil crayon it went from being the longest one in the box to the smallest one from the amount of times that I sharpened it! If the white pencil crayon doesn’t work as a last resort, then throw a confetti party with your art hell ^o^!

    • Hi Justine, your conclusion is incorrect. You can’t really tell the colour of the sakura (or any of it) as I took these photos under fluorescent light at night when normally I photograph my drawings in natural light outside. The sakura wasn’t the problem. It was the blurry stuff which didn’t work and especially a walking figure which I didn’t show you at all. But also there was a big lamppost under the sakura and though I tried to make it fade away as much as possible, it remained a big ugly vertical shape which took away from the flowing diagonal lines of the branches. The sakura was only in one third of the drawing. All the problems seemed to occur in the other two thirds.

  15. Julie – All is not lost. Make art cards (note the plural) of areas of the drawing. There is some beautiful imagery there, that cropped into 2×3 pieces would let the viewer dream of what lies beyond the boundaries!

    • Terry – what a clever thought. With this idea of yours in mind I have just fished the pieces out of the waste-paper basket. It occurs to me that I have a laminator so I can laminate little bits of the picture for cards and even bookmarks. Thanks for the idea. Cool!

  16. Robyn Varpins says:

    Wow, I love this photo….just as it is! Gems in the scattered details…it makes each piece precious

  17. sharonsskow says:

    Totally can relate with you on this ‘evil’ feeling inside of us artists. I can count how many times I’m in that kind of state. Thanks for sharing your anguish.

    • Hi Sharon, though the anguish I shared is from 2013, it is a timeless issue as any creation risks failure if an artist is constantly pushing boundaries. It is a less-than-pleasant, but still essential, part of the artist’s journey.

  18. Linda Lilja says:

    I used to tear up and toss the pictures that did not meet my expectation. One day, another artist suggested I crop and cut out the parts of the picture I did like and attach it to a greeting card. I see some lovely greeting card possibilities in your flowers. Just a suggestion. Also, the pictures you destroy are better than my best work. Linda Lilja

    • Hi Linda, I did almost what you have suggested. I cropped and cut out book-mark sized parts of the drawing, mostly from the cherry blossom areas. I glued the cut out areas to card and then laminated it. I created about six bookmarks, all of which I am still using four years later.
      As to your last sentence – I don’t believe a word of it!!

  19. I am in the exact place now. I feel you sista!


  20. This is so funny – and I can SO relate. My favorite is portraiture in colored pencil. Sometimes I wonder what kind of anal masochist I am to so enjoy torturing myself this way. When it succeeds, the joy is great! But there was that one time when, after almost a month of diddling around with the face, I finally photocopied the face of Jimmy Stewart (from a prize winning painting my sister had done), taped that on top of my mess, and called it DONE. Ultimately, when hysteria subsided, I got back into it and finished it. ;0)

    • Hi Lorraine, Oh boy, I so totally get it. I have a portrait that I worked on in 2002. I thought finally I had made it work. Framed it. Exhibited it. Proud of it. But then over the intervening years it dawned on me that it hadn’t worked. I can’t look at it now. Took it out of its frame and put it into a folder forever more. Couldn’t quite bring myself to rip it up so confined to folder LIMBO. RIP!!
      Lorraine, thanks so much for sharing your Art Hell.

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