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A time to throw it out...

I've just started teaching my Intuitive Painting class again at the Arlington Center for the Arts.

One of my returning students sent me the following, about when to just throw out and start anew. I am using her question with her permission because I think it is a really interesting
dilemma for all artists.

"I was just up in my art room making a collage. Decided to take something I didn't like that much, cut it up and work quickly. Just now trying to clean my art room so I can really use it I had this insight that I also need to give myself permission to throw away things I don't like. I'm thinking that perhaps this is another aspect of valuing what you as an artist like or want to see---that is, acknowledging what you don't really like and letting it go. I keep thinking that I 'should' keep things and make them into something I like. Do you struggle with this? Do you think others do? Do you have any words of wisdom?"

My reply:
Yes, artists continually struggle with this dilemma of when to keep at it, when to just give it up, when to save and when to just throw away.
I like to remind my students to not just throw everything away - sometimes it takes a while to understand what has potential, and what might be recycled in a new piece. Also, perfectionists might just always throw things away because it is never quite right for them, thereby missing out on some potentially interesting directions. So I like to give the message about holding onto your work.

I sometimes hold onto work for years and then finally get rid of it. It's like clothes, if I haven't worn them in two years, I probably won't ever wear them, and out they go.