So, you finished your painting. Now paint it again.
I’ve seen and heard this advice several times but often ignored it, not wanting to recreate a painting unless I felt it was a disaster. But now I know better and have learned that ‘paint it again’ is excellent advice.
Here is a plein air watercolor (painted from life outdoors) created as part of my Painting 10573 project. It was early afternoon and bitterly cold outside, so I sat in my car to paint, but I had started later than I planned so I found the shadows racing across the snow before I even completed the simple pencil drawing.
I completed the painting in one and a half hours, which was fast considering the watercolor was taking a very long time to dry. When I finished, I wasn’t sure how successful the painting was and wondered if it was a bit messy and rushed. The next day I looked at it with fresh eyes and realized it was quite lively, full of light, and had accurately captured the feeling of a really cold, bright day. Although I liked the sketchy quality of the piece, I also felt the composition could be simplified to create a lovely studio watercolor, so I decided to paint it again. Here’s the result:
This time I simplified the wash behind the house and made no attempt to define specific trees in the background. I also simplified the distant areas of snow, making the road less visible and highlighting the snow-laden hedge. Once again, I think there are areas that worked well and areas I was disappointed in, specifically that the shadow of the foreground tree is too wide and the long blue shadows in the snow on the right seem to come out of nowhere.
So, the next day I decided to paint it again.
Much of the painting was improved in this version. I used a warmer color palette and softened the silhouette of the lone tree, so it didn’t dominate the foreground so completely. However, I had reduced the lovely effect of the snow-laden hedge by painting too much hedge and not leaving enough snow visible. And although I like the warmer color palette, it meant I lost the feeling of bitter cold and the stark shadows from the first painting.
I might paint it again, and I’m sure the 4th version will also have it’s own distinct charms and annoyances. While I prepare my paper, I’d be interested to know which version you prefer and why?