How to Get Through Something That's Hard (My Work in Progress for the Grimm's Fairy Tale Art Show)

I was invited to submit to this Brothers Grimm Fairytale Art Show and I wasn't sure what to do.  It had to be art about a Grimm's Fairytale not just something that took inspiration from fairytales like my art.  What were were some of the fairytales written by these brothers?  I wasn't sure.  I had to look it up.  I found that Snow White is one of them.  What could I do with Snow White?  Well, I started with these drawings and sketches.

Many, many sketches and drawings went into making this Snow White painting.

Many, many sketches and drawings went into making this Snow White painting.

I didn't want to paint a scene from the fairytale.  I didn't want to show the usual thing.  Everyone knows this story so what could I do that gave it a new interpretation?  Well, I thought about Snow White as a little girl growing up ignored and abandoned.  I could relate to that and I thought my audience could also.  I wanted to emphasize how she was alone and how her mother and step-mother threw a dark and lonely shadow over her life.  That's what I struggled with in all those drawings.  I was trying to get it just right.

Painting the Snow White piece on my desk.

Painting the Snow White piece on my desk.

When I was finally satisfied with the drawing, it was time to transfer it to the painting.  It started out easy enough.  There were no signs that this would be difficult to paint.  But after putting down the initial paint, I found that I was having a hard time painting those 3 little faces; 1- the evil-beauty of the step-mother, 2- the forever-young and beautiful heavenly dead mother and 3- the innocent and sad child, Snow White.

Snow White's face changed many times during my painting.  At one point, I sanded over her face because there was too much paint building up there.  

Snow White's face changed many times during my painting.  At one point, I sanded over her face because there was too much paint building up there.  

As the days passed and my deadline got closer to submit my painting, I struggled with those face.  I painted them and painted over them and reworked them and sanded over them and just got frustrated.  I started dreading coming to my art desk to paint.  It wasn't working.  What do you do when it's this challenging and frustrating?  Here's what I did:

  1. I took a break.  When it seemed like I was just spinning my wheels and nothing was working, I stopped.  I got up and went for a walk or made a nice meal or talked to a friend.  This made me relaxed and refreshed enough to come back to the painting again the next day.
  2. When I felt like quitting, I invited an artist friend to come over work with me.  Yeah, I wanted to throw out the whole thing a few times.  I wanted to just give up.  But I knew I was better than that, and what I really needed in order to stick to it was the support of some people who understood the ups and downs of the creative process.  That would be my artist friends!  Without the support of my artist friends, this painting probably wouldn't have happened.  We had studio art days and that made all the difference.  We could chat and have fun during the whole process.
  3. Little wins during the painting also helped.  Like when the faces were a challenge, I took a break from working on them and I worked on another part of the painting.  I got the wings just right!  That was a little win!  I got the robes just right!  That was little win!  I got the dwarf doll perfect!  That was another little win!  Those kept my progress going and helping me stay positive about the whole painting.

So I finished it and got it submitted on time.  That felt like a miracle after all my struggle.  I took time to celebrate this victory.  I went out dancing.  I shared good meals with friends.  We shared some whiskey too.  I felt good about it, no matter if I was accepted into this juried art show or not.

A few days later, I got the news that I was accepted.  That's right.  My hard work paid off!  This is my first art show since I moved to Portland, Oregon over 2 years ago.  I'm excited to see what the other artists in this show have done.  I'm looking forward to the art opening. I'll be sure to let  you know how it goes......or better yet......if you're in Portland, Oregon, come see it on April 7th.  That's the first Thursday Art Walk! 

A (bad) photo of my finished Snow White painting.  Come to the show to see it in all its glory in person!  April 5th, Thursday at "Portland 5's Center for the Arts" (1111 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201), 5-9pm.

A (bad) photo of my finished Snow White painting.  Come to the show to see it in all its glory in person!  April 5th, Thursday at "Portland 5's Center for the Arts" (1111 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201), 5-9pm.