Monday, April 13

Fresh Eyes and Time Can Save a Painting

Azalea Trail
Oil on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I cannot speak for other painters, but for me, there comes a time when I can get discouraged with the painting I'm working on. I can't really explain it, and it doesn't happen with every painting, thank goodness.

But when it does, I begin to realize there's a problem, and for a while, I keep on painting, but it just gets worse. I call it the ugly duckling phase of the painting--that time after block-in when it just looks terrible and you think, this will never work

It can also be caused when you make a mistake with composition, value, color, or whatever, from which there seems to be no recovery.

 I have learned over the years not to fight it. I have learned to give up for a while, to let it go for a while, let the painting rest. I put it away, out of sight for some period of time. At some point I pick it up again and see if it is salvageable. Sometimes it's not, but most often it is.

That was the case with today's image. I had painted about three-quarters of it when I realized there was a problem with the composition--large dark trees I had painted on the right side in the middle-ground were all wrong and causing the painting to fail.

I scraped away my work, but wasn't sure what to do. I started to discard it, but then remembered I should let it rest. I put it in a recycling bin in my garage facing a wall and forgot about it for two-and-a-half weeks. When I looked at it again, I immediately knew what to do. I painted the trees on the right in the background rather than the mid-ground and fixed the problem.

Then I finished the painting. Fresh eyes and time was all it took.

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