There are a few pieces of artwork over the years which have almost defeated me. Like an unruly toddler who embarrasses you when you take them to the supermarket. I could quite cheerfully have left these to sit forgotten in some dark corner. They’re the paintings which I got halfway through and thought “Why, oh why did I ever start this?!”
The painting above was one such one. I’d taken a photo of a patch of undergrowth, just beginning to be touched by the autumn. I loved the colours in it, and the way the sunlight caught the veins of the leaves. But after hours of work, it felt as if I were never going to be able to finish it. It was too detailed, and I kept on forgetting exactly which bit of leaf I was actually painting.
Then there was Bath Abbey…
This one was something else. I actually took three years to finish it – not that it actually took three years to paint, but I couldn’t face it for long periods of time. I’d do a couple of hours, with little to show, and then I’d park it for another month or so.
But I did finish both of them, in the end, and there are no paintings of which I am prouder. Sometimes you just have to stick with it, though it feels rather like pulling teeth. But it’s worth sticking at, because not only do you have a sense of deep satisfaction at having beaten the bugger, but actually the things which we have fought for, and with, the tasks we have agonised over, they are often the things which stick around in our memories. They are the truest and dearest children, because we felt every bit of the labour pain.
Yes I am sure there will be paintings in my future which will almost defeat me. The ones of which I ask the same question – “Why did I ever start it?” But I am also sure that they will be the very paintings of which I will be most proud, and most fond.