Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Revisiting for Inspiration

Be more painterly!

That's been my quest as of late. More expressive. Less locked in to the reference.

My daily quick study paintings have been helping, I think. Though sometimes I feel like I'm making no progress at all!

My house has paintings everywhere. The ones that have been around longest tend to make it back into the bedrooms and hall. Those are the ones that don't sell. And those are the ones I see the most! Hmmm, maybe I should rethink that for the sake of my confidence.

One in particular I've been staring at for years. When I painted it I was happy with it. But now I see so many flaws.

So I pulled it off the wall, cleaned off the dust, and set it on the easel. I didn't even unframe it as it has a floater frame with the whole canvas exposed.

Here is the old girl:

So, like I said, I was happy with it at the time. I could see the distance. It was very close to the reference. I spent quite a while painting it. I liked my barbed wire and my distant trees. This photo actually does it a bit more justice, the color of the field was not as warm as it is showing here.

What was bothering me is that it doesn't express anything about my experience of this beautiful tree and scene. The light was low and warm afternoon sun. Can't see that! I lost the light. Ahhh, my biggest challenge in a painting is capturing the light. It feels stiff to me.

Anyway. Armed with the lessons learned from my big brush quick studies, here is what I came up with:

I feel like the color is more the subject now. More expressive of the rich warmth of the scene. The background, mid ground and foreground feel more integrated. Both in brushwork and color.

I used a larger brush, kept away from detail, pushed the colors.

I'm much happier now! What do you think?

p.s. available in my Etsy shop:


  1. Hi Karen,
    I love all of your work and this is a great example of a successful re-work that I can certainly learn from. I think that there is a fear connected with re-working, a bit like the white paper/ new sketchbook syndrome, but once past that it shows what a difference it makes. It has so much more depth and atmosphere with the very farthest hills, and the foreground lifts it completely to a much more joyful painting. I want to go for a walk there now!
    Take care, David.

    1. Thanks David, yes I know what you mean. Usually I do it because I have a painting hanging on the wall for a long time that just keeps bugging me more and more until I get to the point that I'm either going to toss it out or fix it :)