The piece featured in this blog post is the painting on the bottom right. I am painting on Arches oil paper and was focused on doing small studies in hopes that I would get some exciting pieces that could one day be tackled as larger pieces. While some of them have sparked inspiration for much larger paintings, others have dragged out and have still not been finished almost two years later. This was one of the pieces that was dragged out and only recently finished.
This shot shows the first two layers of paint put on this piece. I was focused on creating some sort of composition while also beginning to make interesting textures.
I really tried to use color combinations I didn’t typically use, in retrospect that is probably why I was having a hard time getting it to a place where it felt finished.
I ended up toning down the pinkish gray color as I wasn’t crazy about it. At this point the piece is feeling a lot better but the initial hard edged shape I put in at the horizon line was starting to feel a little too bold for where the piece was going, and I could feel myself working around it.
I decided to paint over it, I could always put it back in later if I decided it needed to come back. I added some more blue and black throughout the piece and at this point it is starting to feel better but not complete.
I wasn’t really sure what else this piece needed to make it finished, but I was also working on another study, Lost Lake at the same time. I actually disliked Lost Lake so much that I ended up totally painting over the initial layers, while this one seemed to be going better I knew that it wasn’t finished. I sat with the study in this phase for quite some time.
I got pretty tired of looking at the piece in the stage it was in, I kept in out on my work table so that maybe I’d be inspired to do something to it, but when I finally did (above) I ended up not liking it. It’s crazy how something seemingly so simple as adding a large area of light under the focal point can change the piece so much.
I decided after quite some time that this piece needed a total makeover. I had some leftover pale green from another piece and decided to smear some of it over a large portion of this study. To my surprise, I didn’t hate it.
I then tried to tone it down/blend it in with the rest of the piece by adding some dark back on top of it. This definitely created some cool and interesting textures but it didn’t necessarily give me the finished look that I was hoping for.
At this point I’m desperately grasping at anything I can to make this painting be done, but nothing seems to be working. I tried changing the orientation, but wasn’t too crazy about it either. The problem I was having was that, overall each of the completely different paintings that came from this pieces weren’t all that bad but I couldn’t figure out what they needed to give them that wow factor. Out of frustration I ended up taking myself to a point where I felt I just needed to start fresh. Which happened again at this point.
I went a completely different route and tried to force something that ended up looking totally contrived. There were still some promising textures but I absolutely did not like it at this stage.
As you can see I again ended up covering up most of the horizon area as that seemed to me to be the most unnatural and forced part. I also dragged some of that light color down into the lower parts of the piece but just a few subtle hints of it. Apparently I still wasn’t happy but looking at it now, the foreground actually feels promising. However, Rachel at the time was not having it.
Once again, I paint over everything!!! As I’m typing this I can’t help but laugh. This might be the most changed piece I’ve ever painted. While I know I paint over a lot of paintings, most of the time it feels justified as the piece is usually not working at all. With this piece however, there were many times where I now feel like it had potential to work as it was, with a few small tweaks; I must have lost patience at each road block.
After the fourth cover up, I finally felt like I could attempt to create a horizon again. Finally it felt like it was working as a full piece. The only thing that was left bothering me was that the bright spot in the middle felt too bright and competing for attention.
I ended up dragging a bit of the dark blue over that bright area with a palette knife and it toned it down perfectly. I decided that this piece had been through enough and it was time to call it.