Ugly phase of painting and how to move past it!

Ugly phase of painting and how to move past it!

The painting, Bloom True that sits below might look okay, now that it's in its final form but believe me, the ugly phase was well and truly making an appearance!

The Ugly Phase of painting
The Ugly Phase of painting

If you are a creative and have felt disheartened and perhaps downright put off, I'm here to tell you that the ugly phase will be here to stay but it doesn't have to paralyse you.  I know it's soul destroying but today I'm going to tackle it head on!

See below for some tips...

the ugly phase and how to overcome
the ugly phase and how to overcome

Ideas for tackling the 'ugly' phase:

  1. Take a break!  I'm not that good at taking my advice on this but really it's true.  Those times when I just keep going and going don't usually go well.  Sometimes we can get tunnel vision and refuse to 'give in' to the ugly phase and that's when it can 'bite you on the bum' and persist!
  2. Sleep on it - no, not on the painting (couldn't resist) but put the 'treasured' painting to one side knowing that it will 'wait' for you.
  3. Know that the 'ugly phase' happens to all creatives and that it does not reflect on your creative talent - it's just a part of the process.
  4. Try to relax (I know, it's the last thing you want to do in the ugly phase but really when you let go a teeny weeny bit, something amazing will emerge.
  5. Don't compromise yourself and just 'do anything' with the piece to get it through - that's sometimes tempting but sitting back and reassessing 'calmly' can be really helpful and soon you'll be on the other side of the ugly.
  6. Keep forging ahead one painting at a time and before you know it, you'll have amassed some personal ways of doing battle with the ugly phase.
  7. Don't be afraid to paint over your piece, gesso over as Tara Leaver describes and even toss it away if need be.  Yes, seriously.  Confession - I've ripped a canvas that I hated and funnily enough created something else from it that I loved!
  8. Take a photo is another tip because it sums the painting up for you in a 'simpler form' that takes a little of the fussiness away.  If I gave you a £ for every photo I take of a piece of in-progress artwork and then look at my phone whilst waiting for our boys to come out of school, you'd be rich!
Bloom True - how to overcome the ugly phase
Bloom True - how to overcome the ugly phase

So next time you encounter the ugly phase, take heart, breathe deeply, make a cuppa and try some of my tips out.  If you have some other tips, we'd love to know - please leave a comment.  It all helps...