If at first you don't succeed, try another medium?

"Cats" 9 x 12 pastel on paper
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I originally tried these figures in a mixed media piece-- one of my first Egypt-themed pieces, and the result was this:

And then I realized the piece was hitting a wall, so I put it into the Epic Fail pile. I may cut it apart and repurpose it, or I may make changes to it, but overall I didn't feel satisfied with the mixed media version. I went on to try a different mixed media work on a different subject, which turned out to be much more successful:

"Egyptian King" 15 x 20 mixed media on paper
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The difference, I think, was that I needed to choose the right medium to suit my purpose. When I first tried to paint the cats, I was more interested in playing with the media than showing the character of the two figures. As a result, the impact of the two cats' faces was lost. When I painted them in pastel, however, I was able to get the bold look I wanted while still keeping the character in the faces. I used a lot of broken color and did very little smearing, intending to give it that primitive look that these artifacts have.
One of the reasons I use pastel more than anything else is its convenience. I have very little time to layer in my mixed media pieces these days, and pastel keeps me honest as far as being a daily painter. As I get more comfortable in different mediums, I'm learning that it's ok to take a subject that didn't turn out the way I wanted and try it with a different set of materials.
How do I know if a piece turns out the way I intend? Well, a lot of art shows are coming up, and I usually rate my satisfaction with a finished piece by putting it into one of three categories. When I feel like a piece has reached the stage of completion, I ask myself: do I want to hide it, sell it, or show it? Those pieces that reach the ultimate level of satisfaction are the ones that fall into the "show it" category. Those pieces also happen to be the ones created with the right medium to express the piece's intentions.
To see more of my Egyptian-inspired pieces, click here:


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