• Kirsten Johnston

Persevere or ditch

When it comes to creating artwork or writing a poem or singing a song there is often that moment of realisation that things are not necessarily on track. It can be a minor moment; can be as part of a draft or a study or practice in which case it is a great learning opportunity; or, in a different situation or after a different amount of investment, it can feel much more major

I so often try to persevere. Someone once told me that art, indeed creating in general, is all about problem-solving and I take that to heart (sometimes I feel I’m getting pretty good at identifying the problems and not so good at coming up with solutions!). Today, though, I hit a problem and decided not to persevere. I waited for the ink to dry, folded the large piece of paper into smaller portions and tore it into bits – not angrily but as a measured and considered decision. It was quite cathartic.

So what’s the tipping point? I’m not sure. In this instance I didn’t like what was happening, There were enormous flaws that I couldn’t see past and the whole thing was entirely unattractive. I’d lost interest and moved on emotionally. An open-and-shut case, really.

But I think the measure for me, now that I write and think about it, is whether or not abandoning a work is going to feel like you are opting out simply because it got hard. Have you sold yourself short? Have you chosen to avoid rather than attack? I realise now that my decision needs to be based more on whether I’m being true to myself and less on what is actually happening in the painting.

Since turning my disaster into (large and potentially damaging) confetti I have started two new works; a reminder that there is always the ‘next one’, and the next one, to carry you onwards. They are both at a difficult stage but fall into the category of fight, not flight. And, I am discovering, that’s where the adrenalin cuts in!

Until later,


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