The ‘Secret’ was the Previous Painting

A comment about the painting I shared on Friday reminded me how paintings I regard as successful are frequently built on ones I regard as lacking.

“Such movement, yet so simple, and not overworked. How you do it is a marvel.” — L.

My response was:

“What you don’t see is the previous overworked one that taught me to do this one.”

And here’s a photo of it for everyone to see. Of course I had intended for the first drawing, the one on the left, to be successful too. But I ruined it by being heavy-handed with the ink.

Two Ink Seascapes One Successful and One Not

The damage started with an inadvertent splodge of Payne’s grey on the headland, where there should be vertical columns of rock with only some of it in shade. Being on dry paper the ink wasn’t keen to lift off, and then much of it was wind-dried before I’d decided what to do, and, and, and I can keep making excuses but the truth if I messed it up at this point.

If I’d had opaque white with me I could have mixed it with my inks and worked over the top, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to keep going with it, make the other areas more solid, but it didn’t help.

Time to put it aside, and try again. Instead of repeating the composition, trying to include the whole bay, I allowed myself to focus on the bit I was really enjoying, the pattern on the shore. Faced with a beautiful location, I tend to have a compulsion to “include it all”, but of course we needn’t. Slices of it are beautiful too.

Two Ink Seascapes One Successful and One Not

Second time lucky. Or practice makes perfect.

Now I’m sure that at least one person is going to prefer the painting on the left to the more abstracted one on the right. So let me pre-empt and say I do like bits of it, but it’s not close to what I was wanting to achieve on that particular occasion. When I look at it weeks from now I might like it more or make a plan to take it further. And that’s why I don’t tear things up on the same day I paint them.

One Reply to “The ‘Secret’ was the Previous Painting”

  1. I think both your paintings have a great deal of merit and I really like the abstract one a lot for its color and composition but the other has something about it, a feeling, that I like too. I think every artist does work they just don’t like and regard as horrible. I’ve done the same thing countless times but kept them all. Sometimes I go back and look at them and they give me inspiration either to rework them or ideas for something new. Even my more successful works have been reworked from time to time. I see things in my paintings over time that “bug” me so I overpaint the bugs and feel more pleased with my work. I know that a painting is supposed to be finished when it’s finished but some of my work sometimes isn’t finished like I want it. If I remember my art history right, I think it was Turner who went back and reworked parts of his paintings after they were considered done.

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