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All About Making BAD Art

Updated on December 15, 2016

Destruction: Part of the Process of Painting

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One of my favorite artists, Brian Rutenberg has a video blog on being an artist. His lofty words and outlook on the profession are really a guilty pleasure of mine, I try not to miss a new video when it comes out.

And much to my astonishment, he spoke one day on how much bad artwork he actually makes - cut to video of him CUTTING UP A CANVAS! This for me was shocking, seriously, he paints on custom built Belgian linen canvases that are twice primed…and then the sheer amount of thick paint he uses leaves me to wonder exactly how much cold hard cash is used to make these treasures of his ONLY to see him routinely cutting one up and retiring it to the trash. I. Was. Gobsmacked.

It was at this point, I realized, I’m not alone. I sweat over my work and some days I think I’ve got it only to be gravely disappointed in it only a few hours later. It’s tough, you want it to be perfect every time and only some pieces you can classify as “magical” - - - that piece that everyone wishes they owned, everyone shares, everyone re-pins, etc.

It just doesn’t happen that way. Some days you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder why you keep going back for more punishment. No matter how much energy you put into it, it just keeps coming up wrong.

It has taken me a long time to realize that not only is destruction a part of the process of painting - making really bad work is also a part of it. It doesn’t always teach you something, some days it feels so random, some days it feels like you have no skill. One can really beat oneself up over it.

The most important part of this, tho - - the making of bad art, is a natural of the process, and it seems, may even be important to your development. You destroy it so as not to remember but its imprint is still there in your later work. It’s all one, and it’s all to be embraced.


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