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Weekly Blog on creativity and what it takes to be an artist by David Limrite (artist, teacher, mentor & coach)


Another page from my current sketchbook project. Mixed media on paper, 15”x 11”, © 2017 David Limrite

Another page from my current sketchbook project. Mixed media on paper, 15”x 11”, © 2017 David Limrite

“That art is something which, though produced by human hands, is not wrought by hands alone, but wells up from a deeper source, from man's soul.”
Vincent van Gogh

Overworking Is Not Creating

We’ve all done it! We have all overworked a painting until it is ruined. The piece ends up no longer fresh, exciting or alive. Instead, it becomes stale, fussy and soulless. And, at this point, it is no longer worth saving.

Why do we do this? We always have good intentions when we start a new piece. We want the painting to be great and we legitimately think we can make it so.

Overworking is a challenge that many of the artists in my ELEVATE: Artist Mentorship face and seems to be something that haunts beginners as well as more experienced artists.

I am not sure why we overwork a painting, but I have an idea:

At the point where we begin to get hung up on unnecessary details, adjustments and corrections, we are actually beginning to lose confidence in our skills and abilities. We start to mistrust our judgement and commitment. So, instead of boldly going forth, taking risks and enjoying the process, we begin to tighten up, play it safe, overcorrect, put in necessary details and make unnecessary adjustments. We do not trust that what we have done up until this point is any good and we think we have to fix it.

Which I believe is the opposite of being creative.

We begin to force the painting to go in a direction that it does not want to go, instead of allowing it to take itself where it wants to go.

I overwork paintings and drawings all the time and I know you do too. When I overwork a painting it is usually because I am painting with my head, not my heart.

If you are interested in creating more with your heart, watch your inbox on Tuesday for a special email announcement about ELEVATE 2017: Los Angeles. You'll learn about the foundation of the program, and I'll share a creation that came straight from my own heart.

Don't want to wait until Tuesday? Click here now.



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Here's the guide you need to help you answer the age-old question: When is a piece finished?


Rehj LabasanoComment