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My Favorite Candle (Failure) ... Not going to give up though

Painting is hard!

I need help but think I just have to work through it.  Painting a cast is difficult - painting a candle that is like a cast is just plain ridiculous.  I hope to salvage it.

I even dream about this painting  -  I can't wait to get into my studio each day to paint my favorite candle and today, it beat me up.  I thought it best to scrape it down.   uggghhhhh

You can get a general idea of what I am working with.  I love my curtain and table (that will be easy to fix) - the cherub is a nightmare. 

 If anyone has any suggestions or helpful hints, that would be awesome.



  • It's hard to tell from the photo but the candle does look stone like in the painting, just lacking definition and some differences in the shapes (legs, arms). I wouldn't give up!
  • I agree with Richard_P that more definition/depth of values would make a big difference. I also cannot tell from your photo what the candle really looks like. Would you consider adding another item or two to your composition? Sometimes other items provide more of a 'story'; a book, cup of tea, other candles, candle snuffer, etc. I would continue on! 
  • Oh my!   This is scraped down -of course it has no definition or even paint for that matter other than smudges.  It is just a struggle to have to scrape and start over.  I shouldn't have posted the picture - I was just trying to show what I was talking about with a candle that is like a cast.  I am ready to quit painting.  One day I am so pleased and then I have had a run of several days where I am completely horrible. The struggle is real. 
  • I meant hints about picking oneself up after failure after failure and no resolution.  The scraped painting sucks - that is why it is scraped and I'm aggravated.
  • Don't give up! We've all seen and liked your quick recent studies.. We all have ups and downs and just have to get through both of them..
  • Dont give up @Julianna - please keep going 
  • Give up about painting? Are u joking? I saw your other work..u are very good, talented and acknowledged! Never ever tell thsi again please :(  it's just the subject that is very difficult..maybe u like it but it's not the best to be painted now. Caravaggio took years to be even try to paint a full human for years he painted only half figures and was one of the best painter maybe ever born.. Send this candle away and paint something else if u don't find it pleasing for now :)
  • @julianna ; oh my goodness, you did say that you had scraped it but I somehow forgot while writing. 

    Don't scrape your canvas anymore. If you're frustrated with it, set it aside, do something else, start a new painting. You will never have a perfect painting (to yourself), but with each painting you will experience something different and find you will grow even more in your art.

    We're each so critical of our own work, but when others see it, they see it through different eyes. They see perfection where we don't.

    I kind of gave up for a little this fall, but I was encouraged to keep at it. And I am so glad I heeded that message. Afterwards I made a painting that shocked me! And I think I may keep it and put it on my wall :-)

    As we say, don't give up before the miracle happens.
  • Go play baseball. or just exercise. maybe take a ball bat and beat a bag of leaves till you know it's beat as good as it can be. Remember the stories about the baseball player, Babe Ruth? He hit more than 500 homeruns in his career, he had the record in his day. What people forget is he also had the record for the most strikeouts.
  • “It’s always wrong until it’s right.”  Keep that in mind. All paintings go through an ugly phase, especially if you are following the method and going dark to light. Expect that it will hit a point where it looks horrible and you will want to wipe it down. It will happen before the painting turns the corner into something good. Get through that phase by walking away for a bit. Don’t give in to the temptation to scrape it down and don’t cut corners to get through the ugly phase more quickly. Be disciplined.

    Also, don’t move on to another stage until the previous one is perfect. What I see here quite a bit is not enough attention to drawing and proportion in the desire to start painting in the hopes of fixing the drawing later. Some pros can do that, but not me. 
  • This little candle is going to be the death of me.  I am now in a battle with it.  Yesterday, I started a completely new palette - put massive amounts of my genevas and started laying out steps.  I also did something I haven't done in a while which helped  -  In the upper right corner of my palette, I have Mid- grey - then 2 grey values either side so when I need to find a correct value, I am using my grey swab value scale on my palette - I am going to corresponding grey to help me see the value.  The darks are easy, the lights are always easy - there a million weird half tones in this thing.  Plus, I keep painting it like it is a little person - trying to make the little legs and belly have adorableness but it is wax - it is just a candle.  The only bad thing about working from life, is I can't flip it upside down or sideways.  I'm looking in a mirror a ton.  I am going to make a big breakthrough if I can finish this thing.  It is 7x11 on linen - so, in the end, if it means I throw a little piece of linen away then I suppose my lesson will be that I suck at painting wax cherub cast candles.  Gosh, it has such potential!  

    I have said it before and never hear it mentioned, but my color checker is not accurate - the grey of the support comes through the lighter colors - I even blob it on.  It is annoying with the lights.  Anything mid-tone or less - it can look perfect with the color checker but it isn't.  I used to look through holes in index cards - you see the color - and can compare that way -you look through true color - not grey underneath influencing - I posted about my struggles with the color checker before but it seems to not bother other artists.    

    I love when I am free and lively with my painting - this is too tiny and over-worked.

    My favorite candle is well lit, looks like it is on a stage with all of it's splendor and glory - the red drapery, the muted greens/blues of the candle on the warm support of the stage.  I still love the set up.

    I'm off to play golf - the good thing with golf is you're gone all day.  My paints are freshly sealed in my masterson box so they should be lovely for many days.

    Thank you for giving examples of your experiences when struggling with a painting and how you work through it (or don't).

  • I love that vibrant red. And the cupid is beautiful. 
  • Now we are talking - looking fantastic I love the finger to move pose, what size is this @Julianna - I need to see how much space I have got for this!!
  • Wow. all that 3D effect you said you couldn't get is there now.
  • This is fantastic! great work on the drapery in the background also.
  • Lots of 3D and that red is gorgeous! Really shows off your angel candle.
  • Obviously you took my advice and went to the ballpark golf course and beat the dimples off half a dozen balls to work off your frustration and aggravation then went back to your canvas and made great art. I'm amazing.

  • I'm still chugging along with this thing.  This has been a difficult process but I am learning an enormous amount.  It is 7x11 on linen so the tiny face and tiny features needs tiny brushes - painting lose isn't cutting it.  I hope to get more done today.  I love my little candle - I hope to love my painting of it in the end.  Thank you for the encouraging words!

    This is about 100 hours in (hahahaha) - seriously, I don't know, but I am sore from so many hours in the same position.   I have started, scraped, started, scraped, rubbed out, piled on - I am over-working the hell out of this thing but I am still not satisfied.  I am re-establishing darks and shadows - I need to re-inforce the light source also.  
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