5 Pretty Terrible Paintings

I did not expect much. They delivered.

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I’m painting this summer and it’s not going well.

A few weeks back I wrote about a small personal project that I’m working on, namely that I was going to “paint five paintings, and write five songs over the next few weeks.”

I have completed the first part of the effort.

In fairness to myself, I did not expect much from my attempt at painting. Investment was low. Liza and I went to the art store around the corner from where we live, and picked up a cheap easel, and a set of beginner paints and brushes that a kind salesperson helped us select.

Acrylics, not oils, she recommended. We complied. Toss in two canvases and a charcoal pencil chosen at random, and I was off home to paint without further guidance.

When was the last time you did something effectively for the first time? It’s surprisingly joyful to have no idea that what you are doing could be wrong, meaning you can dive in at good speed. The results, however, might be a bit thin.

What follows are the five paintings that I produced. They are not very good. But I did them, and that was the goal.

The “Art”

Painting Number One: Alien Shitscape

I painted this one on our back porch, at night, with some good music playing in my headphones. I wasn’t clear on how to mix paints together, how to mix paint with water to make it a bit more pliable, and I was far too scared to change brushes until the end.

Other than that it was good fun, even if my attempt at a landscape appears to have come from a very weak sci-fi novel:

Painting Number 2: Cartoon-style?

This is another landscape, but done from sight this time. The first painting was me making things up. Painting Number 2 is my personal butchering of a particularly pretty bit of Massachusetts.

Sorry, Patriots fans:

What’s ok about Painting Number 2 is that I learned how to mix paints a bit better, and also discovered that water is a good thing. The tree on the left did turn into some sort of graffiti and the rest of the shot looks too cartoony, but, hey, second tries and all that.

Painting Number 3: Don’t Improve Things

I got this weird idea of a ghost ship that was also in space, so I decided to paint it. But after sketching what I wanted it to look like and getting the boat looking mostly correct, I kept adding to it.

The result is annoying:

Liza felt that Painting Number 2 looked unfinished, so I felt compelled to “finish” this one, instead of just letting it breathe when it was actually done. That’s why there are bad flames and blue blobs all over the place.

It’s a mess.

Lesson: If you make a mistake, find some way to blame your spouse!

Painting Number 4: The Least Bad

What follows is the least-awful painting from the group.

I drew a lot when I was younger. Not well, mind, but with great gusto. I would doodle non-rep art all over school notes, assignments, anything. Aside from losing marks from boring teachers who found my art annoying, it was pretty good fun.

This painting fits that old drawing style, and uses color more sparingly. I like it:

There are about 100 errors I could point out, places where my lack of skill made my attempt at vision conversion to canvas a complete mess. But. It did come out looking a bit like what I had intended, and that felt like progress.

Painting Number 5: Rush, And Fail

Sadly that short burst of Not As Bad went to pot with the final painting, which is easily the worst of the bunch.

Liza and I are working on harmonizing our finances, getting a team budget in place, and other newlywed things that are important and not fun. Personal finance is my kryptonite, so when I escaped the planning session to do my final painting I was not in the best of spirits.

I wound up with this boring, rushed mess:


But it’s all good! The second half of the project involves writing music. What could possibly go wrong?