Today I was reminded of why I'm not a painter.
I've been working in bits and pieces on this "landscape" lately, for want of a better description. Because it's for someone I love, I'm trying to do a good job replicating the photograph that was given to me. Striving to get the proportions right. Making it visually interesting. Using vibrant colors while still keeping somewhat true to the original, etc., etc.
The project required a primary sketch on a large canvas, which I actually did months ago. It brought to mind many of my early plotting notes on a novel: very rough, broad strokes that suggested (rather than possessed) the detail and design intricacies necessary to make the finished product a solid creation. But, however pleased I may have been with this pencil draft "full of potential," I struggled repeatedly with the motivation to put real paint onto all that canvas whiteness.
Well, this past week I started in on the paint. I did the easy sky first. Skies are forgiving. They don't mind too much if your wispy cloud swirls aren't in the exact places they were in the photo. I painted a fair approximation, stood back and took a look. Not Michelangelo, but not kindergartenesque either.
Then I moved onto the background, which required lots of browns and tans and peaches. After a couple of hours dabbling in shades of beige, I found myself adopting a "That's good enough, eh?" attitude, which I've been saying to myself this entire summer--but always in regards to my writing of the first draft of Novel #8. With the novel, I know I'll have to go back and deal with the fragmented backstories and the secondary plot issues that, currently, are messy, indistinct and often read like boring scene summaries. The new book is in want of layering and a type of precision that only happens for me when I'm seriously editing and revising.
With the painting, though, I kinda feel like I might just get away with it if I left it as it is... It's just the background, after all...
Well, the time has now come for the foreground to be painted. For the main event. For the transferring of the original photograph's central figure to the canvas. And the time has likewise come for perfectionism to finally step in and claim this project.
But, so far, it just hasn't.
I spent most of the weekend tempted to throw paint at the thing and hope it'd magically arrange itself on the canvas to make the central object look shaded, blended and richly colored without my having to do any of the painstaking detail work that I know is needed.
Can't tell you how often I've wished the same for my manuscripts ("Just type a bunch of words and hope the scenes sounds well crafted, eh?"), but I'm a draft writer. I know it takes 17+ passes before the collection of pages I wrote start to seem like "a book." I've accepted this and have even come to appreciate that stage in the writing process when I can correct my earlier plot missteps and re-draw my characters with better chosen phrases.
I don't know how many passes it'll take for this collection of acrylics to look like "a painting"... But I'm fairly certain it'll need more than I have the patience to deliver.