The Gallery of Failure


I thought I would start this thread after reading the 'how to be miserable as an artist' thread.
I am going through a rough patch with my painting, and I know many of us do at some point.
So, let's celebrate our failures!

The painting below was to be an entry in one of the DMP challenges. I obviously didn't make the deadline LOL
The colours strings are now dried hard. 
My high hopes nothing but a shame stained canvas.

I may yet resurrect this work but the lessons for me-
do not attempt a big new painting after you have completely reconfigured your studio without checking you lighting first!
know when to stop trying to paint when it just isn't working and instead adjust 'the conditions' instead of 'adjusting the painting'



  • Love and appreciate the new thread! Thank you!
    I won't regurgitate my recent flop ( under how to be miserable as an artist) I will definitely post anything else under this one (of which there are many lately-just to lazy at the moment to go downstairs and snap a pic of them).
  • You have a half finished (really good) painting not a shame stained one. I think there's too much canvas on the left unless there is subject matter I can't see. The hat looks great. I love HATS. The shadows and colors in and around the skull are looking good. I don't see anything that constitutes a failure here. I have to be in the right mood to paint so if I loose the mood while the palette is loaded I put away ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin and get the vinyl out with Beethoven symphonies (2,3,4,6,8). Then I pick up the paint brush and ponder about why there were ten years between Beethoven's eighth and the ninth. Mozart is good too but avoid Barry Manilow. It looks like you have everything you need to get your lighting right. Maybe it is just a matter of shading your still life from the studio light a little more. There have been some good threads on lighting in the forum this year. Good Luck
  • Try a fan brush, Rabbits feet look like grass. Trees need branches and trunks and light gaps. These don't look like failures to me.
  • edited June 2017
    @Boudicca, your painting is definitely not a failure! It's just unfinished. That hat looks great! Keep at it.
    @PaulB and @Roxy I don't think your paintings are complete failures, either. @PaulB's rabbit is too incomplete to draw any real conclusions but the drawing looks good.  The composition of the second one (the  landscape) is really good to my eyes and the colours and texture are great. It just needs finishing.

    There is a certain interesting tension in @Roxy's poised rock and I think the colour and values are basically good. The only fault, as I see it, is a little too much blending but that's just down to personal taste and not really a fault.
  • edited June 2017
    so  here's my entry... this was my first oil painting, painted 6 years ago. It made me give up oil painting, till i came across the DMP videos. (photo removed to avoid copyright issues  ;)  )
  • I wouldn't dwell on the failures.  Analyze them (as to why you think they are bad) and then move on.  Most attempts will not be complete successes.  I'm sure even master painters have/had lots of failures.  The secret is not to show them to everyone.  That way people think everything you do is good.  ;)

  • @tassieguy I failed every time I picked up the brush to correct it. I painted the sky five times.  This painting pushed me into painting outdoors to collect data and enhance my understanding of values and atmosphere. I don't have a landscape here, in a city with traffic. There is no perfect photo for a landscape with me. Imagination is bound to fail when there is no knowledge.  
  • edited June 2017
    Many very successful people suffer many failures in order to win and learn to manage themselves, in agreement with JeffAllen above, they just don't dwell on their failures as failures at all and move on, etc. Real failures teach us something new and it's best to just move on. Of course, laughter is the best medicine too! My worst scenario, as a young adult artist, thought I failed so badly, in despair I threw out most of everything I created and worked so hard for up until this point into the trash. Never again, that lesson taught me "never again", I did not know this prior. Never again. Today, I find myself here!, this is great news! and this is moving on. LOL !
  • Two of my greatest enemies in painting in realism are, boredom and apathy. I must fight these and be on the watch, always. 
  • You guys are hilarious  <3
  • This was one of the fails I was to lazy to post the other night. Believe it or not this was a sea turtle  :o not once but TWICE  :s I would paint it hate it wipe it completely off try again even worse finally I gave up and went after my canvas with all my leftover paint with as much smearing gusto I could manage lol, now what to do with my ruined picture ... let it dry and paint a branch going across haha, not realism, not fit for anything but the garbage can ( and you guys wonder why I'm freaking out about my moms recent text lol :p )
  • @WIKEN that is exactly what I am going to call this one! Loggerhead frustration! Love it thx!
  • Loggerhead or leatherlung? That's what a firefighter sees when he opens the door to a room with most of the contents on fire but only for an instant before the smoke comes his way.

  • Current epic fail, couldn't get out to print reference photos today so thought I would set up little still life and paint from life... I call this mess "stick to what you know when planning a show"
    tossing it - I got bored and impatient trying to tediously paint shell number one so blocked it in, then with shell number two said why bother so just cleaned my brush on it  :#B)  my husband gave me some sound  advice "paint because you want to not because you have to"

  • edited July 2017
    Probably one of the most difficult decisions to make and practice, "paint because you want to not because you have to", this is best. "Just be yourself, just be you!"
  • edited July 2017
    Love this thread!

    Here are two atrocities of mine that I committed a few months back. They both ended up boring me and I couldn't summon up the will to try to finish them. They are small for me - about 10" X 16 and 14" X 16". The still life was painted from life and the landscape from a photo I took of our garden. I think the composition in the still life is part of the problem. It seems staid and uninteresting,  And the brushwork is boring - it needs to be bolder.

    I think maybe the landscape has too much happening in too small an area and everything is too blue.  Perhaps the shadows need more warm colour in them.

    I'd be interested to know why others think these two fail.

  • @tassieguy yeah. I agree with the landscape, if the shadows and bright ares are cool then it will become chalky. If both are warm then the painting will look muddy. This is what is happening here. But I guess it is not finished and corrections can be made.

    Still life: I would only soften the right edge of the bottle and correct its shape of the both the bottle and the shadow a little.
    I am sorry to say but both the paintings are not fit for this gallery! =)
  • These have a lot going for them. You can still make the changes you want with new suggestions and get a very good end result. It's not too late or the end for these, if you want. 
  • edited July 2017
    Just my 2 cents worth @tassieguy, I think the still life has a lot going for it, I especially like the cloth and the spoon, and the bowl- very well rendered, but there is something a bit bland about the set up, I think if you made the background very dark it would add some drama. The shadow of the bottle seems too large as well.
    i would agree with you about the landscape.
  • @tassieguy, do you have a table saw? I reckon if you took about 10% off the left hand side of your still life that would fix the composition woes - the rest looks good to me. A bit more contrast on the LHS foreground might help out the landscape. But I agree with others, these are far from atrocities  :)
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @tassieguy I see the shadow of the spoon is at a different angle to the bottle and bowl, perhaps this still life had a light source quite close to it.  Something about the base of the bowl looks incomplete.  The bottle and it's shadow are just lovely.

    The landscape horizon/waterline doesn't look level and the plants on the left foreground appear too de-saturated.  I like this one though.
  • edited July 2017
    @tassieguy : I wish you would you didn't stop working on them... take it as a challenge and give it your best....they are already 80% there... just a little more to go..... its sad to let such good work go unfinished (as you said)
  • @jswartzart :  I agree with others... you can make something really fun out of it... right now the composition has a 'satin-y' (luxurious) feel .....
  • As failures go... I think you have all failed to meet the definition.
  • edited July 2017
    I just learned of similar extending to self portraiture.
  • You guys are so funny! =)

    Thanks everyone for your comments on my two failures. At some time in the future I may try to rescue them with your comments in mind.

    Rob :)

    (BTW ,this is a great thread for learning. So often I know something is wrong with a picture but I can't see what it is and need others to see it - which they often can because they are looking at it with new eyes. I would encourage folks to post more of their perceived failures in this thread.)
  • tassieguy said:
    You guys are so funny! =)

    Thanks everyone for your comments on my two failures. At some time in the future I may try to rescue them with your comments in mind.

    Rob :)

    (BTW ,this is a great thread for learning. So often I know something is wrong with a picture but I can't see what it is and need others to see it - which they often can because they are looking at it with new eyes. I would encourage folks to post more of their perceived failures in this thread.)
    Yes! I think when someone presents something as a failure(in their eyes) it's somehow easier to give a realistic critique. I.E they are about to throw it in the bin, there's nothing I can say that's going to make them feel worse.
  • "You guys are so funny!", "You guys are Hilarious!", that's "realism" too!
  • Thanks @Boudicca for posting the vid. If I was listening right, what I got from Mark's comments is after we've been working on a project a time (probably as you start to get into details) we stop looking at the overall image that we wanted and are now looking individual spots and groupings that are correct for that stage but don't seem like they will contribute to the whole in the way we envisioned. I think that's when he started talking about being a craftsman and working through the tedium on each element.
  • edited July 2017
    To further add to what @BOB73 ,I also understood Mark to say; the work we do may not turn out as what we first envisioned in our mind, but to make what we have done already, work for us (in our favour) rather than strive for the perfection/ideal in our initial vision. This is where we have to be the craftsman and simply do our best with what we have done already, which may not be the ideal/perfection we were hoping for or striving for, but yet produce quite a beautiful or magnificent painting in view of all of this. This gives a lot of freedom to continue and complete any painting and avoid disappointment/complete discouragement. This is great!
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