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


This piece, which is part of my Roomful of Ghosts project at the San Luis Obispo Museum Of Art, has been purposely left underworked for a couple of weeks now. And it has become one of my favorite pieces that I have created so far. I had intended to paint over the collage, however, my gut instincts told me not to. I love the way the collage, the drips, the drawing, and the black hair shape are all working together. What do you think? © 2018 David Limrite

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

3 Ways I Deal With Overworking

First of all, an overworked painting does not mean that there is anything wrong with it.

And it does not mean that you are a terrible artist.

It just means that the painting went in a direction that was different from the original vision you had for it.

Or it could mean that you had a hunch that you were overworking it, you panicked in your attempt to “fix” it, and made poor choices.

Either way, no worries.

What is “overworking” anyway?

Oftentimes, we associate an overworked painting with a painting that has lost its fresh, alive and spontaneous feel. An overworked painting looks stale, lifeless and soul-less. It feels heavy.

And it visually indicates that the artist worked on it longer than they should have. Like they should have stopped working on it hours ago. {Smile}.

Here are three ways that I deal with an overworked painting:

1. I do not beat myself up about overworking a painting. Negative self-talk does not help. At all. I already feel frustrated and exasperated. Overworking happens. I accept that I have overworked this particular painting, I treat myself with kindness, and I set out to breathe life back into this painting.

2. I focus on what’s to be learned from the overworking. Rather than on what went wrong. Sometimes, what I learn has to do with what went wrong. But, focusing on learning rather than mistakes is much more empowering and positive.

3. I always dive back into an overworked painting with enthusiasm and energy in an attempt to resurrect it. As if I have a new lease on life with it. I try to never give up on a painting. What do I have to lose? I don’t like it as it is right now. What am I going to do, ruin it? The overworked passages often add to the aesthetic layering of the painting. And if that is the case, then the overworking was necessary for the possible future success of the painting.

So… you have overworked a painting.


Take a deep breath.

And use one, or all three of the above approaches, to help you dive back in and make something that you can be proud of.

And, let me know how it goes.





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Explore contemporary figure drawing, painting and mixed media using graphite, charcoal, pastel, acrylic, and collage. Experiment with different approaches for developing the human form such as realism, expressionism and abstraction. Emphasis is placed on observation, structure, line quality, volume, composition, technique, experimentation, and originality. Discussions, art historical examples, and demonstration are all a part of the curriculum.

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