This painting doesn’t exist anymore, only in this digital image shown above. Well, here and under several more layers of paint of a completely different painting that now lives on the canvas that it once occupied.
It was a piece that I spent several days on in the studio a few years back. I had an idea of how I wanted it to look in my mind and as the days passed, it just kept moving further and further away from how I thought it should look. I worked feverishly at it, pulling out every trick I could think of in order to make it have some sort of sense of rightness, something that would make it acceptable to my mind.
More and more frustrated, I got to the point that I could barely look at this piece. The colors were wrong, not what I was sensing. The surface didn’t seem right to me. And I couldn’t see its rhythm at all. It just felt wrong on so many levels to me. Finally, at one particular moment on my fourth day of toiling to make it right, it reached what I felt was total failure.
It had beaten me down and I stepped away from it. I knew the only brush I would put to it again would be one charged with black paint that would obscure the sight of this damned thing.
I have written about failure here before– in fact, I will replay one of my favorite posts tomorrow on just that subject– and have failed at many things in my time here on this planet so I am familiar with the feeling. But this one really bugged me. Looking at it in the studio seemed like a form of punishment, one that mocked me. I couldn’t wait to get rid of it and within several days had blacked out the image. A few days later there was another painting in its place, one that had that sense of rightness and life that I’d hoped for in this piece.
I still dislike this painting for not being the thing that I needed it to be at the time. But over the years I have come to find a bit of affection for it whenever I stumble across it in my files. It actually comes across pretty well on the screen, much better than it did in person–kind of the reverse of how my work normally fares.
Do I regret covering it up? I don’t know. It definitely felt right in the moment and has remained so the time since. But, when I can put aside what I thought this painting should truly be, part of me likes this digital image just a bit. A goofy little bit. At least I don’t hate it in the same way nor does it feel like the abject failure that it did when I was working on it. So I am glad I at least captured the image minutes before I covered it up.
Since it doesn’t exist, I think I will call this image Never Was Land.