Friday, April 17, 2009

The Ugly Stage

"Bitter Sweet" 
© J Licsko 06
  oil on canvas  12"x16"

Yesterday, I delivered a painting to my gallery for a group show. It was a wine related event, and I painted two wine glasses and a bottle.  Reflections on glass require some patience, and as the deadline approached, it reached an unattractive state where I began to feel no one would want it.  I rushed to finish, fearing it might not improve.   As I handed the painting over to my dealer, I heard myself say " I could have used another two weeks".  

Recently, I was reading artist Bill Jones's words about one of his paintings recently after he made a comment on one of my posts.  He shares the blog On Painting with Lisa Towers, and I often look to their art and humorous writings to brighten my day.  Bill writes in his April 6th post about the "ugly stage" of his paintings.  You will enjoy reading it.  Until that post, I thought "the ugly stage" was just a Licsko family term.
I first heard the expression many long years ago when my husband, artist Frank Licsko, was was my teacher.  His words were comforting and encouraging when he said "Don't worry, every painting goes through an ugly stage."  I now know it happens usually around the three quarter stage of a every painting.  Most of the enthusiasm for the subject has been released onto the canvas, and one is left with about one quarter of the enthusiasm.  That's not much fuel for finishing. This is where it is tempting to say "that's enough, it's done".   For me, a detail oriented personality, this is where faith comes in.  Faith in myself, and faith in my muse.  With experience, I have come to know that the best parts of my paintings come in the finish.  

The painting above called "Bitter Sweet" is one of those paintings that I obsessed over, and feared I had taken on too much.  All the reflections had me seeing double.  Trusting that if I just stuck with it, I would overcome the "ugly stage" is all that kept me from abandoning it.  The reward for perseverance came when my diabetic collector bought the painting.  The title "Bitter Sweet" meant one thing to him, initially for me as a chocophile, something else, but later it came to symbolize hard work with a sweet reward.


  1. Wow - you did take on a tough one. I like to try simple subjects like a wad of chewing gum. Also admire your push through the rough areas. I tend to get side tracked on to a glass of wine and thinking about the next can't mis masterpiece.

    I bet there were a lot of admirers for this piece.

    Ps. Thanks for the mention - in the future please NEVER mention Lisa unless she brings me a surprize back from Chinsa.

  2. Thank you Bill. Sometimes less is more.

  3. Joanne, love your choice of subjects and titles and of course the paintings are beautifully intriguing!