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  • Ray Monde

What to do when things go horribly wrong (in art)


Sometimes art goes bad.

Look at her face. The horror. This is not intentional. I wasn’t trying to create an image of a women who had been burnt in an accident. Or a woman trapped in a disfiguring face mask.

I was trying to create a woman with attitude, cigarette in hand, giving the viewer a withering glance. I didn’t have the right colour papers to create realistic tones in collage. I ended up with a mess. A right awful mess.

A week later, it happened again.


I was struggling with skin tones from found paper. So I tried to see if bursts of color would help me break through. It didn’t. It got worse. I worked and reworked it so much that her eyes became mis-aligned. Her mouth, a drooping mould.

In the past I would have abandoned them. Worse, I would have taken paint and destroyed them, making the canvas unusable. And I would have hated them. And hated myself.

Don’t give up. Just give it some time.

Now, I’ve learned to work through it. Try again. Try again. Try different techniques. Take a step back and look at it with a new approach. Turn the canvas to the wall and turn it back again in a week to see what can be salvaged.

In both these cases, I painted paper to create the tones I wanted and reworked the faces. I’m much happier with them now. As you’ll see.

In the end, if you persist, things can work out. You may find yourself with something better than you ever imagined. Better than you originally thought you could create.

And even if they don’t work out, you may have discovered a new technique. A new way of working which may transform your work that lies ahead. And that is worth going through a few horror weeks in the studio.

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