After about an hour, however, even my lovely teacher was starting to have reservations. The head looked too fat and too thin all at the same time. The top of the head was too big, there was something off about his eyes. Nothing seemed to fix it. I added pastel, brushed it away, tried to draw in lines with my nail to see what might help this poor guy come together. Nothing was working. Diana, my fearless teacher, took up the paints, adding here and there, trying desperately to figure out why he looked so weird. We couldn't make it work. He looked deranged and slightly dead.
Finally, my time with Diana was up for the day and she tried to reassure me that she thought he was really close; he just needed a few tweaks. I wasn't so sure. I chalked it up to a learning experience, and while I was mildly irritated that I'd used a pretty expensive piece of pastel board for what I thought I was going to brush out and just leave to live out the rest of it's sorry life in the closet, I wasn't too heart-broken.
When I got home, I decided to take a picture of the beast and share it to my social networks. I don't like the idea of pretending that everything in my life is sunshine and unicorns, so I didn't want to represent myself as an artist who always gets it right. So, I posted my little disaster with the title, Buffalo Train Wreck. Here he is, in case you didn't see him on Instagram (danastrotheide if you want art and cute cat photos):
I expected my friends to chuckle along with me and say, "Well... nice try, Dana, better luck next time." Instead, what I got was resounding voices of approval. They liked him. People really liked him. Now, this may be people just trying to be nice, which is fine, or it could be that people honestly don't see the flaws. When my husband returned home and saw him, he loved him immediately. This is quite impressive as while me hubs is very supportive, he's also brutally honest and not afraid of telling me when he thinks something in my painting didn't work.
So... it just goes to show you. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I still think my little buffalo here needs some major work, but I find it intriguing to experience first hand how subjective art is, even when you've created it yourself.
I received some excellent advice from my teacher, and favorite mentor, Diana Tripp, when I entered my first art contest. "Either way, don't take it personally." Good or bad, the love or hatred of art is merely an opinion, and doesn't necessarily reflect on you as an artist. Works to take to heart.
In other news, I rapidly learned that I shouldn't leave my painting sitting on the floor, especially when it's got such dark colors. I woke to a pinkish cat this morning. I guess Dumbledore liked the buffalo at least. :)