Know when you’ve a painting that’s not where you want it to be overall but has parts you’re pleased with and would really like to keep? When the temptation is to paint around these “good bits”, and you end up tweaking and fiddling but things never get better overall? Leading to the temptation to give up or, perhaps worse, settle for “almost good”? That’s where I was yesterday when I finally braved the wind, went out to my studio and confronted a red roses painting I hadn’t looked at for about 10 days. It’s in water-soluble oils which I’ve started using when my studio’s too cold for acrylics (under 10°C).
After staring at it for a bit, I decided it needed drastic action otherwise I’d tweak and tweak and tweak go nowhere. First I spread a layer of light pink to subdue everything. There’s always a moment or three’s panic hesitation doing this; the key is to remind myself it wasn’t right anyway, so I may as well. Then I took a rigger brush and a dark purple-blue, dancing it around to re-establish some darks, then again with a lighter blue.
I do have a plan doing this, but it’s more a map seen from a distance than detailed GPS co-ordinates for every brushstroke. This video clip will give you an idea:
There’s always another moment’s hesitation panic about whether I’ve gone too far, whether everything is irredeemably ruined, and oh no what have I done. The key is to remind myself, again, that it wasn’t right anyway and that past experience has taught me this is the route to take. And to keep going.
Next step was to take a flat brush and add some wider brushmarks to calm the hectic, spidery markmaking somewhat. Repeat with lighter tones of pink.
Is it totally ruined? It’s certainly no longer “almost good”, more like “almost destroyed”. But I like parts, feel good for having tried, and when it’s surface dry I shall continue. Still a way to go, but the road feels open again.