Sometimes you just have to accept you've missed it by a living mile, and it's nobody's fault but your own.
I've spent 18hrs so far on this one and it's getting nowhere.
Sensibly, I put it away for several months and pretended it wasn't mine.
I had hoped that the Art Fairy might have visited and sorted it out, but no such luck.
On digging it out recently I discovered that all the old faults were still there, plus a few I hadn't seen before.
It's actually a useful lesson in not breaking your own rules; in this case trying to paint something I haven't seen with my own eyes.
Quite a Big Rule, that one...
It started with a photograph I found of a stunningly beautiful dancer, taken in 1898.
Her name was Cleo de Merode and she wowed them in some style, invented a new hairstyle, consorted with royalty, became the biggest star of the Paris stage and was photographed from here to Wednesday.
Later on, I found a picture of her taken by Cecil Beaton in the early '60's when she was old, forgotten and broke, but still a star, still poised, elegant and beautiful.
It got me thinking about which point in our lives defines us.
Is the 'me' I think of the person I am today, yesterday, tomorrow? Will I be a different 'me' in 30 years, or is the essence of oneself a constant?
I wanted to create an image that confronts that reflection, that contradiction, and she seemed perfect.
Ok so far, but all I had to go were some low res, tiny photographs I'd peeled off the net, and it shows.
The answer is to reconfigure the painting using a real model, in the here and now, and try to find a model with similar features but 50 years older for the reflected 'self'.
I'm off on Saturday to meet some lovely Burlesque ladies who I'm hoping will provide the answer to the young 'Cleo', and I'll wing it from there.
The moral of the tale is that you can't create this stuff in a bubble, tucked away in a studio, clinging onto your imac.
It has to be about real people, which means going out there and accosting strangers again.
Brace yourself Bristol, I'm back in the game...