Nobody bats 1000


As far as painting is concerned, I'm pretty much a get-it-right-the-first-time-or-don't-bother kind of guy, at least with the small ones. And while I would love to trumpet my successes all day long, I think it's also instructive to think about failures once in a while. This morning's exercise was done from a small park adjacent to a large pond nearby. Although I only had a limited amount of time because of a mid-day appointment, I managed to quickly do a fairly detailed sketch. When I got home in the afternoon, I realized I HATED the piece. It had a cloying mawkishness of the very worst kind; detailed tree-line, waves with brilliant highlights on the crests, even happy, happy clouds. Bob Ross' 'fro would've swelled with pride...

While ponds, pine-trees, and clouds are admittedly a dangerously cocktail, there isn't any reason per se that I can think of why one can't have a perfectly respectable, serious, yet charming enough painting of them. I think the problem boilded down to the scale of the painting and the level of detail. For some reason (and I have to say I don't know why), a small painting with some detail in it just screams for a high level of detail, otherwise it's deeply unsatisfying.

I decided that the only way to save the painting was to remove detail. Starting with the treelines, I removed the jagged squiggles that pinetops present from a distance, and painted them into more general abstract shapes, hoping to get some of the power that simple schematic forms have. I then COMPLETELY removed any hint of crest, trough, and highlight on the water, with only enough gradation to give the sense of recession. The clouds were similarly simplified, and I found myself thinking a lot about the parallelisms between the cloud and tree forms. Out with the dainty details... in with the athletic abstractions. What you see above is the piece as it is now. I wish I'd had my wits about me and taken a photo in it's original form.

As I said, I don't spend a lot of time reworking paintings, unless I think they're really close (otherwise, I just wipe them down and reuse the canvas). This one is not there yet, but it's a lot closer than previously.