While reading Andrew Hemingway's The Making of a Painting (The Diary of Andrew Hemingway), I smiled in heartfelt recognition at the anguish he shared and his ongoing arguments with the painting on his easel. It surprised me, and in some way comforted me, to hear someone as accomplished as he is say what he did in his book. Following is an excerpt from his diary:
Monday 17th April
The picture looks like nothing. Can it ever hope to work. I am confronted with a solid mass of dull slate grey, the surface colour. If only it was something else. How long will I have to stare at this nothing of a colour? Gainsbourough's pink ground (the colour of my last big painting, 1994) to Ruben's honey colour, but not this dead grey.
Almost for the entire day I battle inwardly with thoughts of the fruitlessness of the entire project. I have little or no hope that this picture is going to work. Can I go back? If I do I will never know what could have been. What a dilemma! For any reader of this diary this may seem a small thing, but to me it is a dreadful torment. The work on the background continues; however, I operate on a kind of auto-pilot.
Let me assure you that Andrew and his painting, "Still Life with a Green Glazed Bowl" (60 x 45), both came out of this experience in tip-top shape. My point in sharing this is as a note of encouragement for those times when the struggle at the easel seems overwhelming. I find comfort in knowing that other artists have the same struggles I do, stand and stare endlessly at their paintings and anguish over a multitude of issues. What gives me even more comfort is knowing that by sticking with it and working through the tough times we all come out of it more accomplished whether the painting makes it or not.
May you find peace at the easel,