Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Re-painting and Stupidity

"Aspen Interior"
Oil on Panel

In the past, I've only been willing to a certain extent to make changes to a painting after I considered it "done". I had a method in place that involved working on each area with thick paint while wet. Once dry, that was that. If the painting worked, it went out the door. If it didn't, I trashed it.

Lately, I've been really focused on improving my final product, and part of the process of improving has given me a willingness to mess with dry paintings more than I ever have before. If a painting is decent enough to send to a gallery, but has an area that's nagging at me, I'll put it back on the easel and do some more work.

This painting is one of those that just wasn't quite right. A few days after I finished it, I took the photograph above and noticed that the knots in the biggest aspen tree were uniformly spaced and all the same color/value (does anyone else find that photographs can point out things that you can't believe you missed in real life??). It started to drive me insane every time I saw the painting in my studio, so I finally put it back on the easel and repainted the entire tree trunk, in addition to touching up the knots on the tree to the right. I also ended up messing with the foreground grasses just a bit. Changing the spacing and value of some of the knots gave the painting more interest, and improved it to the point that is didn't drive me nuts to look at it.

The problem is that I sent it to my Winter Park gallery last week without remembering to re-photograph it! In a moment of supreme blondeness, I framed and varnished it and sent it out the door. Now the only photo I have for my website is the one that drives me nuts - grrr!!!


  1. i admire you for being able to finish a painting and not touch it. personally, i work layers on top of dry layers and once completed, i let the painting dry completely and hang where i can see it so i can let all those bothersome area irritate me until i formulate a solution. then i go back to work.

    when painting, you just gotta do what you gotta do, there are no rules as to what is right and wrong! :) isn't it better to sell a painting you are pleased with versus always regretting not fixing it to your liking?

  2. Christine - yeah, I imagine that if I worked in layers like you, I'd be more willing to rework. Since I tend to use a thick paint, alla prima approach, sometimes I avoid fixing something when I should. Anyhow, it's a bad habit , and I'm working on it!

  3. I'll often notice something that I should or should not have done once I see it in a photo. Sometimes it is too late.
    Sometimes I let paintings out before I have a good photo too. Oh well.
    Maybe the gallery can send you an image.
    You should not be affraid to re touch your paintings.

  4. Frank - I know I shouldn't be afraid to retouch my paintings - I think I just don't like working on top of dry paint. I've been using liquin to make things flow better, and I'm enjoying the touchups more!