13 June 2009

How do YOU know when to say when?

Rewind several years ago....when I was a senior in art college....after the multitude of painting 2 classes, and a couple painting 3 classes, I took painting 4 - visiting artist**. A visiting artist class is just that....an artist (in this case, a painter) who legitimately earns a living off his art, teaches a class. Yes, he's paid to do so, but he's not faculty, and only teaches occasionally, hence being a "visitor".

I remember being smacked into reality by this class. The reality was: you need to paint constantly, producing 2 -3 GOOD paintings a week in order to be worth a dime. And, more importantly, everything you make is not fabulous.

The first critique....I was so frustrated. I had my 3 paintings up in front of the class of....maybe 20 other painters....and I hated every one of them. When asked to talk about them, I quite bluntly stated that I had nothing to say. Neither did anyone else. Why? Because they sucked, that's why. My frustration and dislike for them was obvious, and so my instructor, turned to me and said "ok, throw them away". Whoa....that's not what I had in mind. When I encountered a sucky painting, I worked, reworked, and worked more until it was good. I never threw out my precious work. But, I did. I took a "real" artist's advice, and tossed those canvases in the dumpster outside the building. It was SO fantastic. I felt relieved, and free from the suckiness that encompassed them. I have to not-so-humbly admit, my paintings following that event were MUCH improved.

I took what I learned from that class and apply it to what I make now. I discard pouches, wallets, etc if they're not up to snuff. If I can easily rework something, I will. But, if it just sucks...or isn't of top quality, I either toss it, or give it away to my sibs, my niece, etc. Don't sell anything that you wouldn't buy. Scrap it, or donate it. So, my question to other fellow crafters and artists is: when do YOU know when to say when?

**Incidentally, this was the first class I ever had with my now-husband, Rob. We knew each other before then, but we were never in the same class before senior year. We traded paintings by the end of the semester, and our mutual friend Jon convinced me to ask Rob out. And, here we are....;^)


  1. I never really know when to say when.. and i end up getting myself into lots of trouble sometimes.. i say yes to often and then find no way to get it all done and no real ways out.. thats why im closing shop next week for a weeks break. get some stuff caught up.. take a break.. i guess its finally me saying when..

  2. Breaks are a good thing. Sometimes I take breaks too - it's a good way to recharge. I'll bet you'll come back with lots of fresh ideas :^) Good luck!

  3. First, thanks for such a wonderful post. I completely understand that!

    Just until recently did I learn when to say "I need to stop". I can't stop working on something until its the way I want it. So I might stay up half way through the night, until I fixed everything, or it will drive me crazy all day and I just can't stop thinking about it until I fixed it.

    But if I keep making a mistake and its just layers of error, I have learned to throw it away. When I first thought about throwing it away, I couldnt. I couldnt just throw away something I just spent hours doing. And most of the time for me, I like everything about it, but just one area of the canvas. The day I decided to throw away this piece I was so relieved that I could stop worrying about it:)

    Thanks again for the post!


  4. I KNOW! Hours of time on a project.....and you feel as though it's for nothing. But, it's not....you're learning, evolving, and fine tuning your skills the whole time.

    Thanks for the comments!