Oil on canvas panel, 9×12″ (Larger)
The painting above is not great, but it’s loose and free and painted plein air with no touching up in the studio.
I’ve been painting and repainting the formerly plein air painting below over the past few days and it’s been both a good learning experience and discouraging. Mostly what I’ve learned is NOT to (re)do it. When I try to “just fix one little thing” I end up working for hours (days in this case), completely losing the freshness of the original plein air painting and, at the end of the day, finding myself right back where I started from, with dull, overworked paint.
This is the final version and I hereby VOW to not touch it again (other than to throw it in the trash!) I thought I vowed that yesterday and yet today I found myself trying one more time:
At several points in the process I had a good painting but just kept on fixing one more little thing until…well…it’s like scratching mosquito bites…I just keep scratching at until it bleeds and then I’m sorry. The original before messing with it appeared on my easel in my post about my studio here (first photo).
This was yesterday’s version:
Part of the problem with retouching in the studio is that the reference photos rarely capture the colors and memories of the scene. This one sure didn’t and yet I continued to work from it and wondered why everything looked so dull!
(above: the bad reference photo)
(Above) I even tried painting over the reference photo in Photoshop to try to use that as reference instead but I still ended up with mud.
So here’s what I’ve learned (AGAIN!):
- Stop! Don’t waste time. Make progress by painting more paintings not the same one over and over
- Use more paint and less medium.
- Mix the right color, put it down and leave it alone.
- Messing with a hopeless painting forever is not art, it’s OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). I need a painting alarm like those car alarms that say, “Step away from the painting…” or a Sister Mary Catherine to smack my knuckles with a ruler and snatch the canvas away from me…