Making Art

There comes a point,
it seems to me,
in the making of a painting,
or in the making of a poem
for that matter,

when a crossover occurs
between ‘This bloody thing
is awful – it will never work’
to ‘Oh, I rather like this.’

Sometimes, of course,
that point
never comes.


61 Responses to “Making Art”

  1. My “this is bloody awful” and “shows some promise but needs more work” piles are always the biggest! 🙂

    • Hi Paul,

      My poetry notebooks are littered with abandoned poems and my iPad is getting littered with abandoned paintings.
      I promise myself I will go back to them, but the reality is that I rarely do.

      I hope things are well with you


  2. Such truth in this poem David – made me smile when a smile was needed most. Am having a phase of “bloody awful”! 😉

    • Thank you Hollyanne,

      I do recognise that phase, but as a wiser man than me once said – ‘This too shall pass’
      We just have to continue believing!! 🙂


      • Yep, you’re write there I believe David – sometimes it’s just a case of keep on writing through to the other side… Good things happening when least expected. 🙂

      • Sometimes we just have to do that – keep putting the effort in and trusting in the process.

        Which probably applies in more areas of life than just making art!! 🙂


  3. Elaine Randall English Says:

    Between that point and this, is the inbetween.

  4. when it works it is like flying.. sometimes you soar sometimes yo never get it off the ground. lol a GREAT piece David!

  5. I’m inbetween bloody awful and bad 😆

  6. You prove the axiom about the fine line between poetry and prose, then cross the line. The result is delightful . . . Poetry!

  7. David, I know just what you mean (at least when it comes to writing a poem). Sometimes it takes me years to reach that point of “rather liking” one of my poems. And some are destined to the recycling heap forever! 🙂

    • Sometimes Betty I take a meander through my notebook.
      Sometimes I discover a forgotten gem – more often I understand why they are in the abandoned heap! 🙂

      Thank you


  8. And sometimes the point comes to wake us up in the middle of the night to add that one last brush or pen stroke–and voila! We “like” it!

  9. How very true!!! Excellent.

  10. Hi David

    You might finish those poems and paintings that are on hold, maybe they just need to ripen a bit 🙂 but if they are never going to be finished, then they are to be considered as studies 🙂 Nothing you do, is wasted, as everything is a learning process.

    I always doubt my poems, after a few months or so I find most of them not good at all, and my drawings are definetely not professional lol but everytime I succeed in making a portrait look like the original head, I am thrilled. But to someone who knows about art, it probably is awful…

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts about the creative adventure writing poetry and painting is 🙂 and I hope you will enjoy doing both for a very long time!

    Arohanui 🙂

    • Hi Ina,

      Oh, I agree with you – the abandoned poems or paintings are all part of the process. And often there is significant learning in the ones which don’t work!!

      And I also agree that our poems, our paintings, our drawings are done because we enjoy the process of creating them. if we are “thrilled” by what we have created then surely what it is all about!! Yes, we are pleased when other people like them but that is surely secondary.
      Different. I guess, when you are writing (as you do) as a way of making a living.

      I hope too to continue writing poetry and painting for a very long time!! 🙂


      • 🙂 Somehow if others like my poem, it gives me a lot more pleasure than when I am the only one liking it 🙂 Same with my novels, really.

        I am glad you enjoy walking, and I hope you will as often as possible 🙂
        I just came back from the dunes. It really does me good!


      • Ah, I too get pleasure Ina when others like my work 🙂

        I envy you the dunes to walk in.
        But tomorrow I will go walking in Golden Acre Park and next week hopefully in the bluebell woods 🙂


      • Bluebell woods? 🙂 Enjoy!

  11. David,

    As you know I was tired yesterday but not too tired for a big smile on reading this.

    I think you underestimate your abilities sometimes, but having said that I think it’s important for us to leave what we have produced sometimes, have a rest from it and return to it in a new light, maybe the next day and more often than not “Hey presto” (no idea what that means!!) it’s ok – good, even!!! 🙂

    All your painting so far have been more than “good” – you are doing great with your new venture.

    Love you loads


    xxx x

    • Christine,

      Thank you – your support in my “new venture” is very much appreciated.

      I always leave a ‘completed’ poem or picture overnight as often my reaction when I am fresh and rested is more reliable than a late night opinion 🙂

      Strangely with poems my usual next day reaction is ‘Whoops, could do better’ whereas with paintings it is ‘Actually that’s not bad’ 🙂

      Love you loads



  12. Ain’t that the truth….I’m struggling with this very thing right now. A wry smile is offered as I see it put into words. Thanks.

    • Good to meet you Kat,

      There is some correlation I think between inspiration and perspiration.
      But sometimes the harder we work at something the worse the result becomes!! 🙂
      I will be along to look at your site shortly


  13. Expressed so well, David. I often think-my poem was rubbish…then go back later & think “It’s grwoing on me”. An isnpired write (:

  14. How well I recognise that feeling! You speak for us all David!

  15. Hi David,

    A *BIG* 🙂 from both Jamie and myself. We both very much relate to this poem. It oddly maybe applies to music as well.
    Having started my painting week this feels very pertinent as a try to shape paint into a mountain. 🙂

    Often you make so much to find so little in the end that works. Even very accomplished artists still make some “bloody awful” booboo’s and find themselves undoing, re-doing, or having to start over. 🙂 It seems to be as much a part of the process as that finished piece that brings that knowing smile of satisfaction of a job well done to your best ability. 🙂

    You are going through an intense period of learning with painting and there’s a lot to learn! 🙂 From what you’ve produced so far and without instruction of art classes is proof of the talent that lies within.
    Just like stanzas that lie abandoned sometimes after some time to themselves they come to life again and a new poem is written or they lead to the heart of your inspiration. So too all these paintings that “…will never work” are building you in skills to the painting where you do go “Oh I rather I like this”.
    Some of them may remain abadoned some you may be able to go back to or take a re-look and have another go. 🙂

    I admire and am very proud for you with your perserverence and not letting the not so good pieces stop you from continuing to enjoy the process and journey of painting. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next! 🙂

    and K’sOTC 🙂

    • Ah Tikarma,

      You are such a source of inspiration and encouragement to me.
      Both of which make a big difference to me and are very much appreciated. Thank you.

      The “intense period of learning” was I think one of the reasons I set off down this path – a new challenge which would catch and hold my attention – and it has!! 🙂

      The interesting thing is that when I set out to make a poem, my expectation of myself is that I can write a good poem. When I set out to make a painting my expectation is that it will be “bloody awful”, so when it turns out better than that I am both surprised and delighted!! It is a good feeling. 🙂

      And I do learn a lot from the ones which don’t work. You have seen one. But neither you nor anyone else is going to see the painting of the herring gull!! The poor bird would be appalled!!! But some day, when I learn some more, I will produce another one!! 🙂

      The next painting will probably go up later this week.

      I hope your painting week is going well

      Take care of yourself

      and K’sOTC 🙂

  16. So true! And this could apply to so many things we do, or try to achieve, in life.

  17. Oh man, that’s so true. My hard-drive and countless notebooks are like cemeteries, littered with the corpses of stillborn poems, novels, short stories – mountains of stuff that never made it past that crucial point you capture so beautifully. I think my whole life hovers around it, to be honest…another smashing poem, of course. N.

    • *Wry Smile*

      I suspect Nick that most of us “hover around that point”
      One of the great things about this forum on the internet is that we can just take a deep breath and go for it!. Even if the first thought after posting is “Oh s**t, why did I do that!”


  18. I’ve been in that dilemma too many times!

    – L

  19. Anna Mark Says:

    a couple of my favourite poems were nearly abandoned in frustration…i can relate!

  20. This reminds me, David, of what Ted Kooser once said in Souix City, Iowa at a reading he gave that Ethel and I attended. I don’t know if Kooser is known in England, but he won the Pulitzer Prize in the U.S. and was Poet Laureate for awhile.
    He said that when he wrote poems he put them in a notebook with lots of empty pages between the poems he was writing. He said that he kept changing this and changing that, putting new stuff in, taking old stuff out–until his revisions seems as stale as dried cow manure. Then, I guess, he goes back through the revisions, finds the poem that is the freshest and the best of the lot, and then decides the poem is finished.
    Ethel’s technique is different. She rewrites and rewrites and rewrites line after line. I wrote a poem about that once: “The Poet and the Artist,” which was posted on fourwindowspress, but didn’t stir much comment. The rewriting of lines goes on and on until she suddenly has created what is usually a polished diamond without a single excess word. She almost never writes a bad poem, although she sometimes worries over her efforts with excessive force.
    I’m totally different. I write out what I write, then go back and eliminate lines and words until I’ve gotten down to something readable, and then go on to the next effort.
    The point is that each poet is different, and the stuff that doesn’t work creates frustration, but in the end, as Ina pointed out, and as your poem says, all the efforts, the good and the bad, are part of the creative process. It sings into what becomes the work that you produce and put out for the world to read.
    This is a poem that is basically true and one to which every poet, artist, and musician, as Tikarma points out, can relate to with a bit of a smile and chagrin.

    • Thomas,

      We all have our own ways I guess, but it all comes down to the same thing – we are striving to do the best we can do.
      I remember a few years ago attending an ‘Afternoon with Sharon Olds’ during which she talked about her own process of writing poems. The realisation that someone as talented as she is goes through a writing and rewriting process and that her notebooks are full of abandoned poems was enormously re-assuring to me at the time. I have never forgotten that.
      Painting being, at least for me, a longer process I exist for a longer time in that place of frustration. but the trick is, of course, to persist and see what happens. I may still not be happy with the end result but I will have learnt things along the way.
      It is useful too to remember that all I am trying to do is the best I can do at this point in time. When I look back at the poems in my first book I know that I could not write those poems in the same way today. But that in no way invalidates the poems – they represent the best I could do at that time.
      And of course we come down to the question – How do we know when a poem or painting or piece of muic is finished?

      My best to you


  21. Francina Says:

    very true, David, I think we all know this Very well expressed.

    Ciao, Francina

  22. i don’t give up … myself call the process “pulling it through the fire” …and if not there simply means don’t have the smelting formula right. not correct for that particular thing are trying to capture.

    well expressed, here.

  23. oh and have a poem on that, of course. see if i can did it up 🙂

  24. A wonderful poem of simple truth.

  25. chris brown Says:

    How true your words are , my paintings have an extremely high mortality rate, as you would know if you ever tried to find anything in my garage, and yet for some obscure and stupid reason they never quite make it to bin even the ones I dislike. Am looking forward to seeing more of your work, your use of colour and compositions are very imaginative,
    Damien Hirst is on Channel4 tomorrow night at 8pm a definate “must see” for me and I imagine for you too.


    Chris x

    • Chris,

      I am delighted to have you visit here.
      I find it truely re-assuring to know that someone as talented as yourself has a garage space for abandoned paintings.
      I saw on FB the photo you put up of a painting of the Dark Hedges and am really impressed. It is on my list to tackle sometime, but not just yet – I need to improve a lot I think before I take that on. 🙂

      The benefit of working on my iPad is that my ‘garage space’ is electronic. But I like you I am reluctant to get rid of abandoned pictures – I may go back to them some day. 🙂

      I hope to see that Damien Hirst programme.


      • chris brown Says:

        Hi David ,

        I hope to find time to visit more often.
        Its strange how the Dark Hedges demand to be painted and inspire you to write poetry, I have drawn in charcoal,painted in acrylic and watercolour !
        I dont think as a non professional any of us ever feel that confident in our work ,I struggle all the time and anyway who puts there car in the garage I thought they were built for Art overflow !!!!!
        Just have a go, If you wait until you think you have improved enough you,ll never do it.
        I shall be watching this space



      • Hi Chris,

        “Just have a go, If you wait until you think you have improved enough you,ll never do it.”
        Strange – I said almost exactly those words to a friend of mine yesterday about something she was doing, or rather not doing! Perhaps I should listen to myself!!! 🙂

        The Dark Hedges do demand to be painted. I have your charcoal on my wall and it does provide me with inspiration. OK, I will commit to having a go!! 🙂

        My virtual garage has already more in it than does my paintings for display space. Although some of them I may go back to. Whitby Abbey also demanded to be painted but for the moment it is in the garage!!! 🙂

        I got the two Yorkshire Moors paintings printed on a good quality printer at a print shop. They have now been framed and hang on my living room wall. There is such a sense of deep satisfaction in seeing them there!!!



  26. Jennifer Worrell Says:

    Bloody awful is a perfect description for about 99% of my poetry. I love how your poem had a twinkle in its eye!

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