What if I can’t ?

Portrait of John Wayne

Portrait of John Wayne

By Artist: John Catalfamo

I woke up this morning thinking sure this will be an ordinary day, boy could I have been more wrong. It started out with a plan I wanted to come up with some great idea for a new painting. Life got in the way again, so the incredible new painting had to wait. There was just so much that had to be done, first there was the chores then we had to go shopping. Now if that wasn’t enough it seems that for some reason, I forgot how to find my way around the city. I really think this old artist is getting truly old because for the life of me I couldn’t remember which exit to take.

So, I thought now I can get back to the house go to my studio and try and get inspired. Life had a different idea, and I was forced to step away from my art studio yet again. My wife wanted to pick up my daughter and go for a trip to have ice cream and maybe a snack. And she reminded me that we needed to get the CRV inspected before Monday. Maybe the title of my new painting should be frustrated man or aggravated dad.

Finally at the end of my day I had about four hours left before bed. I sat down in front of my computer trying to find inspiration and got sent down the rabbit hole yet again. After spending nine final four hours looking through Facebook at all the silly videos, I realized I was going to get absolutely nothing done.

Does this happen to you? Do you find yourself distracted by the world and the things around you? Making it almost impossible to get any work done at all. My first mistake was planning this painting when the best thing to do was just start. It’s a good idea to put time aside and be very determined about using it for just your art. But you can’t plan on inspiration you just have to work.

When you can’t come up with a new idea or some great concept just pick a subject and paint. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with painting for the sake of learning even if it’s something you can’t sell. The plain truth is you’re  not really an artist unless you paint art, even bad art, but you must paint.

The truth is sometimes a tough pill to take even with a strong swallow. I remember doing a small painting of the movie star John Wayne, one of my favorites. When the work was done there was no Wayne to be found, most likely one of my worst portraits ever. I remember sitting there with this deep and serious look on my face when I realized what I had done. I had spent three and a half hours working on a portrait and managed to not paint the subject in any way shape or form.

Now what I learned from that painting was worth so much more to me than acutely getting it right. If you love art and want to be the best, you can be. My advice to you is work, do nothing but create, spend as much time as you can learning new techniques and skills. I’ll go even further than that, if you don’t have at least 10 paintings, sculptures, or whatever that are horrible, you’re not trying hard enough. I had to include the painting it’s just to funny how much it doesn’t look like him.

Now I know what your thinking, there’s a whole lot more wrong with this painting than just likeness. After 45 years of training and experience in wildlife, sea life, landscape, and a whole lot more I can safely say this is not the only mistake I’ve made.