January Snow 3

Now Paint It Again

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. 

January Snow 1 by Alison Nicholls

January Snow, watercolor from life, 11×14″

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: 

January Snow 2 by Alison Nicholls

January Snow 2, studio watercolor 10×15″

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.

January Snow 3

January Snow 3, studio watercolor 10×15″

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? 

2 thoughts on “Now Paint It Again

  1. Dorothy Scanlan

    Hi Alison! I really enjoyed reading your artistic process and your thoughts on the choices you made for each painting. That being said, I think I like the first one best! I like that the trees in the background are more indistinct as it is a nice contrast with the cottage which is a bit more distinct than the other three. I like the balance between the dark hedge and the white snow. And I like how you made the top of the tree in the foreground lighter to meld in with the trees in the background. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Alison Post author

      Hi Dorothy and Happy New Year!
      I find it’s difficult to evaluate my plein air paintings because when I look at them I see not just the painting, but I remember the act of painting, where I was sitting, the temperature and sounds of the day. As far as I’m concerned, its undeniable that the 1st piece has a definite vitality whereas the 2nd and 3rd pieces have a much calmer feeling about them. Some people prefer vitality, and some prefer the more careful studio approach. As a plein air artist, if I had to pick only one, it would also be the 1st. But I can see the advantage of some of the changes I made in the later versions. The great thing about art is that everyone can choose what they prefer to look at!
      Hope to see you again soon!


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