Hitting the wall

Back when I painted a lot of historical murals I quickly learned there is a stage in every project we call hitting the wall. This is the stage where things don't seem to be coming together properly. At this point the project can easily overwhelm you. It happened to me on almost every mural and I've seen a lot of other artists experience this same thing. The temptation is to break out the smaller brushes and go to detail or to repaint whole sections, often again and again in an effort to bring the project back into focus. I've seen some artists struggle for days or weeks at this difficult stage. 

I learned to discount these feelings, and instead to simply press on - to trust myself and the design I had done previously. Instead of becoming bogged down in doubt I kept to the plan and kept on painting. Every time, without fail the mural was done - on time and on budget. And they all turned out great. There was no need to worry.

As I worked on the Fox and Hounds signs this last week I felt this same old feeling. I hit the wall. But I kept plugging away, trusting the design I had done months previously. The dogs on one sign got more than a little grinder work and rebuilding, but I knew if I kept working it would come together.

Last night as the electricians hooked up my new router I was in the studio laying on the paint. I ignored the shadow of that familiar wall, turned on my favorite music and kept working. The paints flowed and the design came together - as I knew it would. I was called away a couple of times to help out the electicians. It allowed time for the paint to dry. When I came back it was time to apply the glazes... do or die time. And in an instant the dogs came alive... sound asleep but very much alive. The signs that had given me so much grief now are among my favorite. Not everything comes easy.


From here on in the painting is easy. The scroll will be blended, light tans and the brightly colored Union Jacks will go on in a hurry. Next week on my return from Atlantic City the signs will be hoisted into place at last.

Life goes on.

-grampa dan