Here we are on our Halloween episode. It's already that time of year. It's getting cold outside stage. Charla was telling me about a commercial on Instagram that she saw over our lunch break. And it was pretty funny.
Yeah. Where he drew me to the attention that I should be paying attention to my voice and not just my appearance. And then I started thinking about how critical we can be. I can be of my appearance being on podcasts. And now I have to be aware of my voice, as well.
Yes. I'm not sure
I'm not sure of any of our listeners know a bit about that backstory. When we started our podcast a year ago, I came into the picture thinking we were doing an audio show, and then Charla announced to me that we were also doing a YouTube show. And I had a very hard time adjusting to being on YouTube every week. But I think I've done. I've done okay with it. Haven't I?
You've done amazing. It's just, no more podcasting in your pajamas. But you know what? We just recorded a YouTube about productivity, and really one of the big parts of productivity, which I don't really think about much anymore, 'cause I'm not just a stay at home mom, is that when you get up and you get dressed, when you work from home, you get up and you get dressed and fix your hair and put on some makeup, you actually enter into productivity. Whereas when you just sit in your pajamas with no hair and makeup done, if that's your everyday routine it, it actually can, can stop your productivity.
Yes. Have you.
So, being on YouTube, forces us to be more productive.
It, it sure does. And have you ever heard like way back in the day, there was someone who was teaching house, cleaning tips, named fly lady. Did you ever hear a fly lady?
Okay. Fly lady. You, I she's still on the internet. You can still look her up. But she has a tip that you keep your runners or your sneakers, as everyone would say down in the States, you keep your sneakers, your runners, right by your bed, and you don't get out of bed in the morning without putting them on.
I've heard that.
And if you put them on, it'll change your whole mindset. And I actually on the mornings that I work out, I have my, all my workout clothes by the bed, and I don't go downstairs for coffee until I'm in the workout clothes. And then that helps me. It changes your mindset.
So, we're still on the, the productivity talk Charla, but it is actually Halloween. And we had a whole other topic to just kind of, I guess, celebrate the fall and talk about the ugly, ugly Halloween season and how a lot of artists feel like sometimes all we're doing is ugly, ugly,
Ugly work. And when you're on YouTube, all you think about is how you don't want to look ugly or sound ugly. That's how, all the transition of this intro began.
Yeah. Yeah, we're trying hard not to sound or look ugly here on the Bold Artist podcast. And so, um, but meanwhile, you know, if we, we wanna get real about it, uh, a lot of artists really struggle through the ugly stage of their work. And I'll get really real that I have what we've talked about. Um, we've talked about finishing our work strong. We've talked about stages and process of work before, but I'll get really real to say that I have been in times of learning before where I was so incredibly frustrated feeling like all I was producing was ugly. And you are a great comfort to me because you will say to me that ugly is part of the process, I don't wanna, I don't wanna, um, peel back the layers of that too much, Charla, because I really think you're the expert at that. So, what do you mean when you tell me that ugly is part of the process?
Yeah. So I think there's a couple of meanings to it. Like when you're learning ugly is part of the process because you can't expect a great outcome when you're learning something new, you can't expect a great outcome every single time. And yeah, you actually might make some flat out ugly work. Like, my opinion is who really cares. No one has to see it, and we don't have to pretend it's nice, and we don't have to quit because we didn't create a nice piece of work. But the, the, and, and a lot of people find freedom in that. A lot of people already know that they kind of know when they have an ugly piece of work. But I think the part where the freedom comes in from people is when I talk about the ugly stage in a regular piece of work. So, you know what you're doing, you've created work, but you're a little bit unsure about your process and you're painting goes through an ugly stage.
So, when I'm teaching my classes, I inevitably hit that ugly stage every single time. Sometimes it's uglier than other times. And sometimes I wonder if I'm gonna be able to pull it out of the ugly stage. So, I always talk about it, that in, in my classes, and it's one of the things I hear people say most often, I would think that it was, or at least one of the most common things that they respond with is thanking me for talking about the ugly stage, because they felt that you don't often see people's processes. So, they thought their process was unique. And when they hit the ugly stage, it, it kind of, uh, it had impact, right? They looked, they said, stand back and look at their work and it's terrible. And they don't know how to take it out of the ugly stage. They don't know if they can and you become judgemental.
You become less confident in your process and your work. And oftentimes people can quit. Or, they push through, but they still think they're lesser of an artist because there's an ugly stage.
And the ugly stage is, um, is basically just an unfinished work. You know, you're, you're in the middle of a work. It's the middle. It's not the end. When it's great, you're at the end. When it's finished, you're at the end, but when you're halfway through, it's not finished. So it's basically just a piece of work that's not yet complete. That's all an ugly stages.
Yeah. And there's so much comfort in that because I have even wondered at times, especially when you've spoken about finishing a piece and knowing your process enough to finish a piece, I began to wonder if I even knew how to finish a piece, because I think I left off at the ugly stage and didn't complete or bring it to fruition. And I think that that if an artist stops to think about like all the pieces that they have, that they feel they're, you know, they don't like, then maybe it's just that it's not finished. And you haven't found that part of your process to finish. And I really, really loved giving that some thought, just kind of mulling that over about my process because, um, you know, in my different work, in, in an illustrative context, I definitely know my process and finish strong.
But if you hand me the acrylic paints and I do what you do and what, what a many of the instructors within Bold School does, I feel like I still experience getting stuck. And so this has been really good for me, 'cuz I feel like I get stuck in the ugly.
In the ugly. And I'm like, help me get out of the ugly. So, um, our school, um, through the classes within Bold School, I actually believe that the classes are exactly the answer for helping us get out of the ugly because the, the instructor doesn't stop in the middle, in the ugly.
You get to see it all, you get to experience it in real time. Our classes are, they're not time-lapsed, and you don't skip forward. You go with the instructor through every stage. And as you mentioned, you take students right. Through the ugly stage and into completion.
Yeah. How to finish strong. That's what I always call it. Like learn how to finish strong.
So, you can bring it into an end game, you know, like you can finish it for one, because a lot of artists don't know how to finish it, but also so that you can bring it out of the ugly stage. I think like one of the, if you're not even sure what the ugly stage means, you can think about the idea of painting in public. If you have to take your piece, you'll take your equipment and supplies up onto a stage where there's a hundred people watching you paint, it's terrifying. It's terrifying because, um, you know, you're unsure if you can complete it. 'Cuz no matter how great an artist you are, if you fail, when everyone's watching, that's what they're gonna remember. So, of course you don't wanna fail and not be able to paint it.
But for me, a big part of the fear of painting in public was somebody seeing the stages of my process and possibly thinking I was a fraud because they would see the work and how ugly it was. And especially if I was doing a demo where it was timed and I had like 30 minutes to finish a painting,, and I'm like, I have to do this really quick. What if I can't bring it outta the ugly stage? They would all know that. Or they would all think that I am just faking all of this and these aren't even my paintings. So, I always had that fear. So, if you've never really thought about the ugly stage, maybe you never even knew you had an ugly stage. think about the idea of painting in public. And how does that make you feel? Beside everybody looking at you? Um, like, how does it make you feel for somebody seeing your whole process? It's kind of terrifying for them to see your whole process. So, um, that's part in part because you know, you have an ugly stage in your painting.
Well, hopefully we haven't started any complexes here today. Anyone listening, thinking, what I have an ugly stage? Kinda like you listening to the commercial during lunch where you're like, what I should be aware of my voice> We don't wanna start that. But if you have been aware of stages where you're just, like, not fond of your own work, and you're feeling like you're pushing through the ugly, um, Bold School has a lot of help to get you through that process. But here on the podcast, we wanna offer some practical help. Um, Charla, you were telling me the other day a bit about your process, and it's really clear the steps you take to get yourself out of the ugly stage. So, um, so can you kind of back us up, tell us a bit about your process and what that looks like when you hit the ugly?
Yeah. So I know my process really well because I teach it a lot. And I think that for just about every single artist out there, it's really important to, to really, like, take time and evaluate your process, and understand every step that you take to get to a completed painting, a good painting, something that you like, something that you're good at. Understand your process. So, I under, I know my process really wel,l and I think that's a key to of course getting what you want and being able to take it out of an ugly stage. Maybe not every single one of your paintings go through an ugly stage, but there's bound to be one or two. So, your process will help you get out of it the way I see it. So, my process is, um, you know, I have my canvas, I lay down some color, like some grounding. I outline my, um, face. I, I paint portraits, and I outline my face on the canvas. And then, um, I actually usually love that stage because, like,
Yeah, you describe that to me as being no stress.
Yeah. No stress whatsoever because you're at the beginning and the world is at your fingertips basically. There's so much potential on an empty canvas. You put down some color, you lay out your outline. You're like, yes, this is gonna be awesome. And then you put down your first layers, your're establishing layers. You know, you're working out what colors you're going to use, the highlights, the shadows. And it's all pretty normal because you know, this is just a layer or two
You. Yeah. And I think that a lot of artists call that blocking in the colors.
So, then you outline, and then you're just blocking in values colors.
And it's still wonderful.
Yeah. It's still, still all wonderful and so much potential.
And then you start laying in more, more layers and creating the form and you know, putting in the deeper shadows, thinking about how you're gonna do the hair, and all these kinds of things. And then you paint for a few hours, and then you step back ,and you look at your piece, and you're like, what just happened? Ugly. It is ugly. It's a disaster. I can't stand looking at it. It's not what I was expecting. Um, but basically this is where, you know, you, you need to evaluate your canvas and. And I really am not sure there's an artist, especially when that's experimenting and, and trying new things and trying to be different. Some artists are very repetitive, so they may never hit an ugly stage 'cuz their work is very repetitive. But if you're experimenting and, and trying to do new things in your studio, you're gonna get to a place where you need to evaluate your work.
Okay. So, just stopping you right there for one quick second. The evaluation that you're referring to is, is that different than a critique? We've talked about critiquing other people's art or us looking for critique, but is an evaluation a little bit different, or is it one in the same?
Um, I think it's, I mean, it's, it's similar. You could call it self critique. You can use some things that you would use in a critique session in your self evaluation. But a critique session, a formal critique session will involve a few different things. Whereas this type of evaluation is, is really based on, um, you know, like balance, and composition, and elements of art, and the principles of art.
Which are really scientific. Like it's left brain. It's not right brain. The first step of, of evaluation, the ugly, during the ugly stage is really a left brain evaluation.
Because you wanna be able to say, okay, well I don't like it. I don't like anything about it. She doesn't even look human. Maybe, you know, maybe you create, created an alien. So, the first thing would be okay, is there, is the features correct?
Like are the features outta place? So you wanna make sure that she looks human, maybe you're painting a likeness. So, you wanna get the likeness in place. Then you wanna look at your colors 'cuz maybe it's, like, making you wanna vomit. So ugly. That could be because you overdid your colors, and they're super saturated, and super busy, and you've got every color in the rainbow, and they're all clashing. So, then you gotta look at your tools. Like, what your color theory tools and evaluate your colors and see, see what you can take out and put back in or add or take away. Then you look at your brushwork, uh, you know, is my brushwork all the same throughout the entire canvas, 'cuz maybe that's just boring. And I really need to look at my brushwork and create some variance in my brushes and my lines so that there's some dominating brushes and lines and, and shapes, you know, with, with the texture and that kind of thing on your canvas.
And then you wanna look at your values and see, is there, is there enough change in value or is it all very flat? Does it look like a foggy day? And there's nothing to look at? Is there a focal point? So you're really just looking at the principles of art, the elements of art, elements of composition, and deciding how you can change those to bring your painting into a balance, which is pleasing. Um, and, and really this comes with study and practice and understanding the science behind art. After you kind of bring it into balance, you wanna go a little bit back into your right brain and start emotionally evaluating it. I guess you could say evaluating the message, the story. Is this a likeness? Did you bring the spirit of the person out? Is there a story you're telling? Is the expression, like, did you get the expression?
Is she sad? Is she happy? Is it supposed to be dark and moody? Is it supposed to be light and bright? Like, did you achieve the message, and the feeling you are trying to evoke in the painting? But the first, you don't really want to do that until you evaluate this is, this is my opinion and my process and how I, I succeed at my pieces, is you evaluate the left brain first, the left brain work first because it's really just logistics to decide like is my, is my painting off balance, and how can I fix it? And usually you can fix it quite easily. After that you can decide if there's a message, or a story or, or then it becomes a little bit more, um, uh, what is it like one is objective and one is subjective, right? So the first one is objective, how is it good? The second one is subjective. Do you like it? Are you pleased? Are you happy? And then you can kind of move on from there and finish strong with bringing in other parts of the process.
So, how you explained it to me was you, you essentially step back, evaluate, trust yourself. You added that part in there when you were telling.
Yes. Big one.
Big one to trust yourself. Which, trusting yourself is a part of being intuitive, and knowing yourself, which comes back to knowing your process. And then you, so you're stepping back, you're evaluating, trusting yourself, then making the changes, then repeating.
Back evaluating. And, and so the way you described it to me to get outta the ugly stage is just the repetition of that process.
Of evaluate, trust yourself, make the changes, step back, evaluate. And eventually, Charla, do you find, how do I, how do I frame this question? Do you find that the ugly stage evaluation changes process gets faster with the more skill you build? Or, do you still hit paintings where it seems like that repetitious, uh, evaluate change process is still long and drawn out? Or like, is there any way to gauge like that part of the process, or do you just have to keep changing, changing, changing until you get it?
Um, I think that, I think it's yes and no. If you're working on specific set, working towards a goal in your art, then you practice that goal, and the ugly stage will get easier. And you can self-evaluate, and bring it into balance, and you can succeed quite quickly. But then when you bring in some new ideas, maybe, maybe you're really good at painting with analogous color palettes, which is a specific type of color theme. So you, you practice that over and over and over. And now you're pro at analogous color palettes. Now you say, I want to practice complimentary color palettes, and when you hit the ugly stage, you're going to have a, a harder time rebalancing that painting because you're new to that palette. So, when you bring in a new element, the ugly stage is going to be a little longer and a little more challenging.
I've, I've got other things, uh, when it becomes more challenging, and you really just can't see past your own self, and your own critique of your negative critique of yourself, you know, step away from your painting, go to, go out, go out of the studio, or take your painting into a different room outside, into natural light. Look at it from a distance. You know, there's other ways to also evaluate. If you really can't figure it out, take it into a community like we have at Bold School, where you can get help with, from the, the community there who understand what you're learning and the processes you're going through. Actually, it's probably one of the most amazing things that I didn't even think myself would be so great within an art community of like-minded artists is to get help from other artists who know your process.
You know, it, you can't critique an abstract artist if you are a realist. I think you may, maybe you can, but I think it's a lot, it's really tricky. But if you're in a like-minded community, they can really help you with critique. A, a lot of artists know the feeling of overworking a piece, and it's quite, quite possibly because you can't see what's outta balance. You've moved everything around. You've changed the colors. It's still not working. You take it into a community where people are honest, and open, and loving. There's in our community's loving. There's nobody in there wanting to tear you to pieces, and tell you you're not an artist, that doesn't happen in our community. So, the people that are there, uh, can look at your work and, and just make a quick judgment on it, but what might be like scientifically off balance.
And, um, I know that's true because we get a lot of work within the community that, I mean that I might not enjoy that. I might not wanna paint. We get people coming in, painting political portraits. And we know that that's divisive today. But we get people painting political portraits in our community, and people that, you know, have painted political figures on the other side of the debate, and they're coming together and helping each other, uh, evaluate their pieces and make them better. And that's when I'm in awe of the community, 'cuz you know that you've, you've gone beyond, you know, anything that you might think or judge about a piece, and you can look at it, like, thoughtfully, and logically, and objectively, and help move it into balance, and make it a successful piece. So, that's what happens within our community.
I mean, it's rare that political stuff gets posted, but I think it's a really good example of how the community works together. So, I do think there's a time for it's really, really great for you to learn self-evaluation because you wanna be able to move through that part of your, your process quickly, while you're in the studio, while you're in your deep work, your creative time, while you're in flow. But if you're stuck, then a community is an amazing place to go.
But you can keep a list on hand in your studio. If this is kind of a new thing for you to be self-evaluating and put things like check your color theory, check your brushwork, check your focal points, you know, check your message. You can write all these principles of art down like a checklist. So, when you're really stuck, you can attempt to look at that work critically, and go through the motions of taking it out of the ugly stage.
Yeah. Such excellent advice in closing of today's show, Charla, do you have any last remarks or encouragement for everyone?
Well, um, you know, we all go through ugly stages in our life.
We all been there. We all been ugly. In life and in art.
We've all been there. Sometimes on YouTube and sometimes not. Um, just, I just think like what everyone has said to me in the past, like, just this happens to every single artist, they go through ugly stages. They may not show it on YouTube and Instagram. I try not to show my ugly stages on Instagram because I want people to see the good parts, um, but I can assure you, they all go through it. We are just showing the parts of us on our social media and our website that have been super successful. Where we were in flow. And we're what we're really good at, and what we've practiced a million times. But when you're moving through and learning something new, you're gonna go through the ugly stage. So, so embrace it. It's part of your process and figure out your process, look at your beginning stages, your middle stages, and your end stages of a painting, and learn how to move through them, and, and create a, a painting process that works for you. You're familiar with and something that you can succeed at. We need successes in our studio and knowing your process is, is a way to guarantee that.
That's my advice today.
Yes. So good. So, here at the Bold Artist Podcast, we are with you as you go through the ugly stage.
And come join the community.
Yeah. Come join.
Get some help mentoring.
And yeah. Boldschool.com. Hop on our newsletter, get our updates, and find out what we've got to offer. We have all kinds of resources, even a free micro class. If you're interested in learning how to paint from Charla, and you just want to test it out before you get committed to the community, and the classes. Um, so check that out. You can find us on Instagram @boldschoolinc, on YouTube on the Bold School Channel, on all audio apps, including Spotify. We've got our audio show of the Bold Artist Podcast. So happy to have you here with us today. And until next time, keep creating.