An Ugly Canvas is a Gift

A guest post by Carolyn Dube


Ugly is a gift. It doesn’t always feel like it at the time but it truly is a gift. I can call all the layers I didn’t like simply Oops layers. Because without them, this canvas never would have gotten to where it did and I like where it ended up.



I had this canvas that I tried all sorts of things on and none of them turned out even remotely “good.”

In fact, this canvas qualified as hideous. An eyesore. Truly. So I decided to just add more to the junk pile it had become. Old mauve and yelllow ribbons cut up and gel mediumed on.

What did I have to lose? It was already such an ugly canvas.




Then I gesso’d the whole thing.




Smears of paint here and there.




I drew, drizzled, and dripped green acrylic ink.

After the ink had dried completely, I decided to try some self leveling gel on top of this. I’ve had this gel for a very long time and must admit, this is my first time using it… The label clearly warned me to seal it before adding the gel because it might make things below discolor.

Well, that made me curious. I didn’t seal a thing. I know, you’re shocked that I didn’t have the patience to wait for something like a sealer. As it dried, bits of oranges and pinks that were hidden before became visible. Previous layers found a way to peek out and add interest to the finished piece.

This canvas was ugly and that was the gift that allowed me to take risks, experiment, and play. Now I am off to find another of my ugly canvases to see where it takes me.



Carolyn Dube is a mixed-media artist and instructor who is addicted to color and play. Find out more about Carolyn on her blog, A Colorful Journey, on Facebook, and at Google+. Her stencils are available at StencilGirl Products.

Paint MojoFor more painting techniques, try Tracy Verdugo’s book Paint Mojo.

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2 Responses to An Ugly Canvas is a Gift

  1. claudamb says:

    I’ll look at my “ugly” pieces with new appreciation. Sometimes a “good” one can paralyze me — I don’t want to ruin it. “Ugly” ones are an invitation to experiment, as you say.

  2. MariaMcGuire says:

    You made it come alive! It just wasn’t ready yet… it is beautiful 🙂