I’m not sure where I learned them, but as soon as I did, I realized how powerful they were. They work best to dispel my natural tendency to let a simple disappointment snowball into a full-scale self-directed character assassination. I can’t tell you how many of my paintings don’t quite turn out, how many times I’ve run out of cadmium yellow light just when I really needed it, how much time I waste scrolling on whatever app has captured my attention. 

Oh well

It magically opens these wondrous gates to self acceptance and, more importantly, moving on. There’s an implied “shucks” in there too (because it’s best said with a sigh) so I can properly acknowledge my disappointment and just keep going. I’ve said it recently when I walked into the studio ready to paint only to see an overflowing trash can in my path. I wished I’d emptied it at the end of my last session, readying my space for this new moment, but, oh well– I tied it up, brought it out. I’ve said it as I’ve obliterated an entire painting with a large swipe of the palette knife, ready to start over with all I’ve learned. Oh well. I’ll try again.

It’s bigger than the studio, too. It applies to avocados I let get too ripe, alarms I don’t set, and children who are on cloud nine one moment and in the depths of angst the next. 

There’s power in “Oh, well” and I aim to exhaust it. What words or phrases give you power? I’d love to know.

Below is a video collection of  studio “oh well’s”. I hope you enjoy it (mostly because making it was a series of stumbles itself). It certainly brought a smile to my face. Most especially that last clip. 

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Written by Denise Hopkins

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