Pushing Through the Suck

I have a secret I’m going to let y’all in on.  I’ve not told too many people outside of my family about this.  I just didn’t believe anybody else would understand. 

My eyes were opened while listening to one of my favorite YouTube channels, Rafi Was Here Studios.  The two amazing artists hosting the channel, Rafi Perez and his wife Klee Angelie are 10-year veterans of the art world, their art is amazing and I find their channel to be informative, affirming and inspiring.  I’ve just spent the last few weeks with their vids as the almost constant soundtrack of my studio time as I binged watched nearly their whole collection. 

This particular video was, “When You Create a Crap Turd Piece of Art”.  In it I learned that they both go through a very similar experience as I, when creating artwork; what they termed an inverse curve of the creative process. 

It starts with an inspiration, but soon devolves:      

“This will make an awesome painting.”

“Well, that doesn’t quite look like I wanted it to.”

“This is really starting to suck!”

“I don’t have the talent to do this!”

“What was I thinking, I’m not an artist!”

“Bad artist!?  Hell, I’m not even a good person!”

Then it starts turning around:

“Well, that bit doesn’t totally suck.”

“You know it’s kinda working in places.”

“OOO, I like how that turned out!”

“This painting is really kinda awesome!”


Rafi and Klee calls this, “pushing through the suck.”  I figured that this was something, while maybe not unique to me, but an indication that I wasn’t a “real” artist, that “real” artists have left this sort of self-doubt far behind.  When they start an art piece, it is well planned out, it goes as planned and they never suffer the soul crushing doubts that I feel during nearly every painting.

Thanks to Rafi and Klee I now know, the doubts are just part of the life; part of the artistic process familiar to many if not all artists.  I’m now sure that in the middle of sculpting the six-ton statue of David, Michelangelo sat in a pool of his own sweat and perhaps tears muttering, “What was I thinking.”

But he was able to push through the suck and this week, I pushed through also on my little 4”x6” Carnation and Apple still life.  I have not done many still lifes (lives?).  But this one struck me as particularly interesting and I thought it would make a neat study.  So, I snapped a few pics and scooted off to the studio.  It wasn’t long before I was nearly completely convinced that this bit of watercolor paper had sacrificed its virginal whiteness for naught and it was on its way to the scrap bin.  But I pushed on, stubbornness I guess, and after a while it started looking better.  In the end it became one of my favorites so far.

Perhaps I risk over extending this, but just maybe, when we are in the middle of the suck, whether it be in a creative endeavor, or in any other part of life, we just need to keep pushing through.  It will turn around.

Keep doing what you love.  Drop me a word or two if you feel it.  See ya’ next week.