Monday, April 4

Are You Getting Better as a Painter?

My Improved Watercolor
I was rearranging some of my supplies and paintings the other day to see if I could organize things a little better. Usually I keep a pretty neat area with like things stored together and paint colors, paper, brushes, and finished work in some sort of order.

In a perfect world, all of my finished paintings would “fly off the shelves,” so to speak, and would be instantly sold on eBay, Etsy, at an art show or festival, or bought by eager collectors.

But here in the real world this does not happen. And so we are left , or I am anyway, with a stack, a pile, or a file of completed paintings that have nowhere to go except the far, dark corners of my studio.

So that was the scenario the other day—I was thumbing through a stack of my watercolor and acrylic paintings on paper. I do attempt to protect them somewhat, either with plastic envelopes or paper sleeves or similar.

In doing so, I came across a painting from way back in ’09, which sounds like a really long time ago when you say it like that. It was a watercolor of a rather simple coastal scene. It had beach grass on sand dunes leading to a faded red bait-and-tackle shop, which was the focal point, and with the upper two-thirds of the composition being clear, blue, noon-time sky.

When I saw it, I instantly remembered working on it. I liked the motif, and still do, as it reminds me of the vacation we took that summer, whenever that was.

I remember working so hard on that painting, trying to get it just right with correct shadows and change in values. I was proud of it even though it got a very luke-warm review from a more experienced artist, and I really liked it.

It had been at least a year since I had looked at this painting. At first glance, I could see exactly why it wasn’t very good. There were hard edges on everything. The objects in the distance didn’t recede at all and neither did the horizon line where the water met the sky. And to top it all off, the sky was streaky. Oh my.

But seeing it again, I was now happy.

Why? Because I could see the error of all my painting ways, meaning that, in the two years since painting it, I have grown as a painter! I now have more experience and know how to improve it.

And that’s what I did. Being watercolor, it was easy to go back over the whole thing and soften and make corrections. I even lifted most of the streaks in the sky and repainted it.

To see how much you, hopefully, have grown as a painter, take a look at some of your old paintings. If you can improve upon them now, congratulations, you're getting better!

Happy Painting!

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