I made a big mistake that has changed me

Yesterday I had a very bad creative block. One like I never had before. I am not even certain if "creative block" is how I should call it, but that's how it felt for sure: the feeling of being stuck and being unable to make progress on my existing ideas for a painting, and on top of that, making almost unfixable (and unforgivable) mistakes.

I worked on this piece for a while, and I had a vision for it since the beginning. I knew exactly what I didn't want: bright, high saturated colors. I had no idea why... I absolutely love colors, I love the feeling that they can bring to a piece. But this time it was different, I needed to go beyond expressing boldness through them. I had the feeling it was time to let the colors go. And that's all I knew about the piece since I started it: I wanted to express myself through anything but colors.

My painting was already passed beyond the ugly stage, and at some point it felt like all it needed was a little bit of work on some facial features and smaller things. The background wasn't 100% of my liking, but it was good enough, and I could feel emotion through the brush strokes I left showing. Looking at that painting felt like looking at me. The colors were there for sure, but they were better placed and were purposeful. Their transparency through layers brought a sense of calmness, and I loved it. There was very little to be done to call it a finished painting, until I decided to make some new, darker marks around my subject. I didn't like the marks I made using fluid acrylics, but I didn't hate them, either. However, I now had to work on my background a little more, so my dark marks wouldn't take away all the attention from my focal point. I got in this "creative haze" and completely forgot about my goal: no bright colors.

Guess what I did? Well, after making my piece go from light to dark, I added bright colors...... EVERYWHERE. I know today, after a few hours of sleep and some deep thinking, that this action was my inner child fighting to let the colors go. It was my subconscious retaliating against my own rules. It was me, in a war zone against my own self.

The piece felt ruined. I wanted to burn it to get rid of my anger. I was told by many people to just work on it another day, with fresh eyes. I then blamed my teachers, they never taught me when to stop. I blamed myself for not sticking to my own rules. I even blamed my ever so loved Opus Pink for being, well... too pink. I was so frustrated and let down by overworking it. I caught myself many times looking at the picture I took when I could have just called it done, but it was too late... My painting was ugly, my day was ruined, my time was wasted on something that I had loved, but now disliked with every inch of my being.

I took a break for maybe an hour, and decided to do something I have never done before: I decided to push through my resistance. I envisioned what I wanted since the beginning: a powerful piece without bright colors. I envisioned my bold brush strokes and layers that brought emotion. I damped my rag in alcohol aggressively, and wiped my entire background away. That rag was my power tool to erase all the unforgivable mistakes I had made. I almost had a blank canvas, except, my subject was there, urging for a better synthesis than just a plain, boring, gray background.

I painted, and painted, and painted. I used tools I had never used before. I mixed colors that I had never mixed before. I painted hair using brushes that I would have never picked for such thing, just out of frustration. And guess what? I had a breakthrough. A few hours later, and my piece was more beautiful than the previous version. I spent quite a few hours reflecting on everything as I cleaned up all my tools. I was trying to understand how a big f* up could become even more beautiful after a huge reconstructive surgery? It didn't make sense in my head then, but it does now. The reason the final result is more beautiful than what I did before, is because when I fixed it, I PAINTED IT WITH EMOTION and with ALL OF ME. When I was frustrated, I painted with all of me. When I was overwhelmed and feeling like I couldn't do it, I painted with all of me. When I was disappointed, I allowed myself to paint more, with all of me. I allowed those emotions to come, I felt them, and I let them go.

About my urge to not paint using bright colors, I discovered that their absence leaves room for my other skills to show through as I master them. And that's exactly what I needed.

Food for thought: What emotion makes you paint more and better?

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