Feeling high – taken a bit down

My recent painting was a real joy to paint, and ended up like this:

I could just see the painting come together in a way I really liked, and ended up with a result I was very pleased with.

So – as I always do after finishing a pleasing painting – I set to work again the next day expecting me to take it all a step further.

Well – as always – it ended up more like a step back.

I’ve come to learn that this is a natural part of my painting process, so I don’t feel particularly down about it.

I just find it kind of humorous.

Anyway, back to the point. This is the painting I did the following day:

It’s not that bad, actually, but it’s definitely a pale copy of the first one.

The difference is that the mountains in the back are way too dark in this one, which makes the whole painting loose depth and look more flat.

The same can be said about the grass in front.

The blends of colours are also overworked, as I tried to add way too many layers too make it look better.

I need to make a bad painting following a good one, though.

Just to get me down to the ground again.

So next time I’ll start with a more realistic approach to it all.

Hopefully I can take it a step forward again 🙂

16 thoughts on “Feeling high – taken a bit down

    1. That’s definitely the best way to look at it. I used to be so disappointed in the start when things didn’t go my way. Just losing all my confidence, really. Now I’ve realized that it’ll happen again and again as long as I keep going 🙂

  1. I don’t agree that the second painting looks more flat. By carving out the mountains with dark colors and adding a bridge that leads the eye into the scene, you’ve created 3-dimensionality. That would be my take-away from comparing your two pieces.

    1. Thank you, Laureen. It’s always nice to get a more positive look at it 😀 I’ll take that away from the painting as well 🙂 At least I can see that my “bad attempts” are getting better and better.

  2. I think I’m earlier on than you, but I’ve experienced this too: doing something that I felt was pretty good (for me) and then really struggling with the next thing I did. I guess it’s all part of process, and you get a bit more consistent as you go along. Painting wouldn’t be worth pursuing if it wasn’t hard! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Chris! I couldn’t agree more about the last sentence there. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning when it comes to painting, which in many ways are great 🙂 I’ve gotten used to the whole cycle of bad paintings following the good ones, so I’ll difinitely take it as a lesson and move on 🙂

  3. I find the process is generally one of creating a mess and then fixing it as best I can. I think if there’s a sure sign of progress is that the messes don’t need so much fixing but occasionally the gods of watercolour will smile down and allow once in awhile a painting without the mess from the start. Very rare.

    If you’re not happy with an outcome though my best advice would be to hack away boldly at it to see if it improves. If it trashes the whole thing then there’s still lessons learned. For instance you identified the back mountain, you could wet that one and try and dab off some of the paint with a paper towel. Depends on how much of a disappointment it is and how precious it is.

    Personally I’d be happy with it but I’d also be happy with learning something even if it meant trashing a painting I’d spent a couple of hours on, as long as I was truly taking something away from the experience.

    1. Thanks for the input, Steve. It’s interesting getting your take on it 🙂

      I find that the paintings I’m unsatisfied with are becoming better and better when I take a look back, which is very motivational. The funny thing is, though, that the paintings I’m very pleased with usually just happens without me having a clear plan of how it came together. So I guess that’s a lot like you mention, with the gods of watercolour smiling down at me (and sometimes notr so much..) 🙂

      I take each failed attempt as a learning experience, but I could probably use more time trying to pinpoint what went wrong with each one. Often I’m so disappointed at first that I’ll just throw the whole paper in the bin and start over (with the new attempt often ending up much worse because of the desperation…).

      I|ll try to stop for a second next time, when I see that a painting is starting to get ruined, and try to use the opportunity to learn by trashing it a bit. I need to overcome my expectations of wanting every painting to be perfect. I think I’ll learn – and dare – more that way 🙂

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