Tea and Lemon on Lavender, oil on linen panel, 8x8"
Tea and Lemon on Lavender, oil on linen panel, 8x8"

Tea and Lemon on Lavender, oil on linen panel, 8×8″

I make a lot of “almost” paintings: they are almost what I intended; I almost like them, if only… (insert painting problem here). I’ve learned to appreciate the learning process and the parts that work and learn from my mistakes. But I haven’t yet learned to leave “almost” paintings alone and start another one.

Instead I keep working them until I reach the point where the underlying problem (e.g. poor composition, icky colors of background or subject, bad drawing, too overworked, or just not enough skill to pull off what I was going for) becomes insurmountable. Then I make a note of what I discover and what went wrong and give myself an assignment of something to study and practice on the next one.

With Tea and Lemon, I was happy with almost everything except the background which I reworked several times. I’m tempted to mess with it some more so I’m posting it to make myself stop.

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Category:
Art theory, Oil Painting, Painting, Still Life
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Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. Now that’s a good title for an art exhibition or at least one cupboard of our paintings and drawings ‘Almost Right’. Too many of them!

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  2. Oh another loveliy painting! You captured everything so well- all the details just right so who worries about the background?

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  3. We are always our own worst critics…the background works just fine in this one, and you should give yourself a pat on the back. Its a wonderful painting.

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    • Thank you Sally! It’s so reassuring to hear your words. It’s so true about being our own worst critics. I try to appreciate the nice parts but so often my eye just goes right to the “problem” that nobody else even sees. Jana

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  4. That knowing when to stop…..it is certainly a stumbling block of rme!! This looks great, though, and I agree with your other commentors, you’re being too hard on yourself and the background is not a factor because of the skillful painting of the subjects here! File this in the ‘Aced it!’ cabinet! Or better yet, frame it and hang it on your wall!

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  5. What do you think is wrong with the background? It looks good to me, so how about helping me learn how to be more discerning? I really can’t figure out what bugs you here! And I love the way you evaluate your paintings – it is a great learning tool for me. Thanks!

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    • Hi Jana, Well initially I didn’t really paint what I saw, tried to kind of generally do the cloth and also didn’t get the color/light/value right. First it was too blue, then too purple, then too dark, etc. Then I didn’t like where the folds were in the composition. I guess what I ended up with is OK now, but I think I need to spend more time with setting up compositions so that I can paint what I see and not have to change things too much after the painting is underway. Jana

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  6. Well I was not distracted by the background at all when I first looked at the painting… My eyes went to the tea in the cup and then all around the cup and saucer. After reading the post I looked again and I see what you are talking about. I think it is just too deep and blue in areas and the contrast is a little distracting. The gray shade at the bottom of the painting may do better. But as I said, it was only after you pointed it out…lol I love it and think it is beautiful ! Thank You for posting. I have soo many “Almost” paintings I totally understand. Kari

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    • Thanks for the close look and taking the time to share your thoughts. What you describe is exactly the problems I was seeing too. But I’m glad to hear that you liked it and that it took my pointing out difficulties for you to see them. Jana

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  7. A simple and perfect background that centres attention where it’s supposed to be.

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  8. From up here in Sonoma the background looks great!

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