I have read a lot about painters who worked on painting for years and years. They would add details, rework areas, paint out figures and keep fiddling in general until they thought the painting was finally just right. Personally I haven’t ever really done that, to me once a painting is done it’s done. I would try my best to realize my idea and once it was complete then I would move on. If there were things I wanted to do different then I could always apply it to my next work.
This mode of thinking is no doubt influenced by my own commercial art background where a deadline is a deadline. There is no time to tinker when something is past due. You get a job and get it done to the best of you abilities on time. That’s the way I have always thought or maybe I should say that was the way I used to think.
Take for example the painting I blogged about before, my submission to a show entitled “Invincible Summer.” If you want you can read about my idea for the painting and why I painted it as I did but either way here it is:
The final painting turned out as I hoped. It fit the theme well and was accepted into the show. As a matter of fact the painting stayed on display for a few weeks after the show ended since it fit the space so well. The only problem for me was the more and more I looked at it the less I liked it. I really enjoyed painting it but in retrospect I felt the “summer” aspect of the painting was ruining the “winter” part, the part I liked better. If the painting had sold I would have felt happy about it and I wouldn’t have thought about it but once it came back home it just annoyed me. I decided to do something that could be potentially stupid, I decided to repaint the parts I didn’t like.
Having never done this before I was faced with a few new problems. Since I framed the painting myself taking it out of the frame was easy. The first real problem was in getting the acrylic painting ready to be reworked. As I do for almost all my paintings, I had applied a coat or two or varnish when it was completed. This meant that I needed to remove the varnish, a scary idea. This process was made possible only because I used GamVar varnish which had been developed to go on and come off a painting easy. All it took was a few cotton balls and some odorless mineral spirits and the varnish was off in no time. I was back in business.
The next step was the actual painting, I had to remove all the hints of summer. For the ground area this was pretty easy to do. I literally plopped on a few layers of white paint to eliminate the grass ad flowers. Once all traces were removed I then went back in painting in the variations of the snow and shadow. The harder part was repainting the sunlight which illuminated the ground. I had to work the same way as when I originally painted the background, starting with the sky and working progressively forward in space. It was at time frustrating as I found it hard to keep painting the detail in earnest without trying to replicate what I did before too closely. I believe that sometimes when you try to hard to copy you kill the painting and stiffen everything up.
It took some time but I managed to get everything done and I had a winter scene that I liked a lot more:
You may not agree but I think this painting is far superior to the first time it was finished. It’s a bit ironic that the better painting you not have gotten into the show it was originally intended for as it no longer fit the theme. In the end though its more about the painting though, right?
I forgot to mention I also added a small rabbit to the painting to liven it up a bit. Here is a detail shot of him in the renamed work, “The Winter Rabbit”: