"Genius is actually the eventual public recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts at solving a problem. Sometimes we fail in public, often we fail in private, but people who are doing creative work are constantly failing."
This is a recent quote from Seth Godin's blog (he's a marketing guru on the cutting edge of the changing face of how we communicate with each other, and how we choose to buy today - namely social media). This thought found me just after I had spent 3 days on a 12x16 portrait and then wiped off half the face in frustration, and was headed back to the studio sooooo reluctantly for another crack at it. The thought gave me a good push on my way back in, but after another day spent I felt no further ahead and by now was fully fed up with the piece.
I was trying to get a submission ready for the Portrait Society of America, with only one day left (never a good idea and something I ALWAYS do), and having used up the better part of a week on the first attempt, I was left with a very small window to pull something out of the hat. I got out a new 12x16 panel, chose a different subject, and 8 hours later I had completed this portrait, which came surprisingly easily and was a pleasure to paint.
I believe the 4 prior days spent thrashing around on the first canvas led me to the ease of the next one. Seth says, "Fail often." - like it's a goal to shoot for. I believe what he means is something I've come to believe about mistakes - there aren't any, only progress toward truth. The trick is remembering this while you're in the midst of one.
PS: The model is Merrick, a beautiful young woman whom I have painted from life numerous times. This portrait was done from a photo taken of her while at the studio.