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The fuglies

There is a slang term used in the U.S. (usu­ally by women): “the fuglies.” It refers to days or weeks when every­thing seems wrong with your appear­ance and you just can’t man­age to look the way you want to. The term is also some­times used to insult some­one you find unpleas­ant to look at. The word’s ety­mol­ogy is pro­fane.

In my expe­ri­ence, just about every paint­ing goes through one or more fugly stages. There is a point where the paint­ing, at least to the artist, is hideous and seems unre­deemable. There is no point to con­tin­u­ing, because the paint­ing is doomed. I’d post more work in progress shots, but the fuglies really bother me.

Unless you are pre­pared for the fuglies, they will destroy your abil­ity to fin­ish any paint­ing. It takes a leap of faith to look at a work in progress, be revolted by what it looks like now, and believe that it has poten­tial nonethe­less. You have to believe that you can make it look right, even though right now you can’t stand to be in the same room with the thing. The more you’ve done it, and the more you can remind your­self that you’ve been able to get through this before, the eas­ier it gets.

If you’re a begin­ner, it’s even worse. You may not yet have made a paint­ing that looked any­thing like what you wanted it to, so it’s hard to keep work­ing on what feels like a piece of junk from start to fin­ish. That’s a leap of faith as well—faith in the idea that even if this paint­ing is ugly, the next one will be less so. Take my word for it: if you keep at it, your work will get better.

Posted in art technique, painting.

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3 Responses

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  1. Jeff says

    Take my word for it: if you keep at it, your work will get better.”—————>

    These are encour­ag­ing words as I begin the jour­ney into seri­ous oil paint­ing. Star­ing at my blank can­vases, I am try­ing to make a com­mit­ment to a year or so of fug­li­ness with­out expec­ta­tion of final formed prod­uct. Just learn­ing my mate­ri­als, try­ing to get into the mun­sell stuff and learn­ing what my lim­ited palette can do. Each post here and on Cen­nini is like a rev­e­la­tion to me– it seems over­welm­ing but I am tak­ing it one day at a time–

  2. Lowell Fuglie says

    It so hap­pens that Fuglie is my fam­ily name, orig­i­nat­ing in Nor­way. Where can I file a law­suit for defama­tion of character???

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