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The "U" Painting Curve

It has been a goal of mine to paint a realistic portrait since I was 12 years old. I can paint a realistic portrait now but even still with each one of my paintings I always go through a weird phase - what I like to call my "Picasso Phase" until it turns around. This is where I start painting and all of my proportions get all funky and bizarre until somehow I pull this together in the end. I didn't name my weird art phase after Picasso as an insult to his art art, it's just when you're aiming for realism or close to and it starts reminding you of Picasso's work instead thats not exactly what you are aiming for. Until recently I thought this was because I wasn't a good enough artist to get it right the first time or something else as equally belittling to how much hard work I put into my art. The issue was, I had never seen anyone post about this within their work and I thought I was alone as an artist in this Picasso Phase. I was not taught about this in art school. I have never read about it online anywhere. This was until this week. I was reading Art Inc. (The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist) by Lisa Congdon where she describes what her teacher taught her about the "'painting curve' which is a line that looks like the letter U." When you start your painting you are at the top of the U and as you paint the work gets messier and that part of the curve is at the bottom of the U. This is usually the point in my art where I will either laugh it off about how weird it looks or get really frustrated it doesn't look how I want it too. It is important to keep pushing through this point to "rising back up to the top of the U" until our work becomes wonderful again. This blew my mind because this doesn't get spoken about in art schools or in any art lessons I have been in. If it did I probably would have looked at my art growing up and as a student a lot more differently instead of often giving up within the comparison of the talent myth that it had to be amazing from the start or you weren't a "real" artist. Reading about the Painting Curve was incredibly reassuring that other artists go through a similar process that I do. That it isn't naturally amazing or polished throughout the whole process. Here are a few examples of my Picasso Phase.


Art is a messy process and I feel that within our society we need to share only the "beautiful" and polished parts of it creating an illusion of learning and pushing through the difficult parts. This is found within many aspects but most importantly in social media. Only sharing the highlights and not the behind the scenes. This makes snippets appear as the whole picture when and hides the whole process, within art and within life. So if this process sounds familiar to you I hope you feel as reassured as I did. ​ And remember... You are not alone. You are not a bad artist. You got this. Much love, Georgina Alice

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