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Thursday, January 14, 2010

When Good Paintings Go Bad

It started out like any other painting, work out the drawing and composition. Transfer the drawing to the w/c paper. I laid down a wash of cerulean blue over everything but the face. The idea being I wanted the face to have the whitest whites and most contrast.




Started with viridian green and burnt sienna for the skin tones and added some cobalt blue and quin red while still wet. Looking good so far.








Face is coming along. Developing warm and cool areas and starting in on the beard.







Finished up the figure and started in on the background. This is where things start to go wrong. The background looks busy, particularly the right side where the edges are too hard and the color is too bright. Hmmm... no problem. I'll just tone it down.


Added a darker wash and made the background a nice, muddy blob. I liked it better before, but too late. The next two days (seriously!) were spent going over and over the background. Eventually I ended up cutting out the figure and painted a series of new backgrounds, laying the figure on top to see how it would look. Finally settled on a new direction for the painting and started all over again.


This time I changed the angle of the figure and decided to crop him differently.





Once I had the figure painted I worked on a loose background that worked with the direction of his gaze. Done! All that's left is to go have a nice glass of wine!

18 comments:

Angela said...

I really didn't mind the 'after' of the first painting...but I love the second! :)

Micah said...

Oh I love this Peggi.....just wonderful!

maria kovalenko leysens said...

Wow, it was worth it. I really like the end result. So many times my "thumbnail studies" end up to be actual size, hmmmm... I am just not brave enough to post them. Still, enjoying the journey!

Whitemist said...

Nice comeback!
I easily see how the focus became lost because og a busy background!

jeannette stgermain said...

Guess it's all in how you saw it in your mind! The first background is busy, but I wouldn't call it a screwed up painting:)

Robin Maria Pedrero said...

The last piece is so dynamic! You worked it through. It is so encouraging to read and see your process. You know I am a fan!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jeanette. I actually like the painting that you threw out, but you're the artist and that's why I follow you. I love this post and that you shared your personal insights through this journey!

Lauren Maurer said...

Wow, even your bad paintings are gorgeous! They both look great! :)

richard said...

This is such a great example of the difference between art and craft. Both paintings are equally well crafted, technically and compositionally. The difference is that one says what you wanted to say and one didn't. The first one uses the background to define the character of the subject and the second one was more "pure" portrait, relying on the subject to be self-defining. I think the first one is beautiful, but the second one is also outstanding and I see what you wanted to say about him. Love this.

Pattie Wall said...

Now if I had done that, I would be working forever, trying for a second successful painted person...and you made it look identical. Love(d) both of them, but you knew what you were going for. As Richard says..it's the difference of what you wanted to say.

Costescu said...

I would be so happy if my screwed up paintings looked so good ;)

Love them both and really enjoy seeing the work in progress to see how they progress and decisions made in pigments and composition.

Manon Doyle said...

I loved it before and after!! Wow!! You always blow me away with your work!! He's gorgeous! I think you might deserve a bottle of wine!! : )

Peggi Habets said...

Thanks guys!

Manon, No problem there. That glass of wine is slowly turning into a bottle of wine :-)

Richard,
Hmm, interesting. I hadn't thought about it but yeah, the first one just didn't feel like it had the right tone or mood.

Anonymous said...

you've dealt with problems we all face and it is great to share how these can be resolved even if it means start again... that also takes courage. and a wonderful painting as a result. r.

Marian Fortunati said...

I agree with Jeannette... However... it is GORGEOUS... Amazing work...... love the way you analyzed it and made it as you wanted it!

Karine said...

How generous you are to share your challenges and how you resolved the problems. I tend to hide my "problem" paintings away from the world until I have either resolved them or destroyed them. You are a brave soul. and a talented painter!

Sophie said...

It is really great you shared it this way. Entertaining and informative. I love both paintings but agree the second one is stronger. That's why I love oils: you can just scrape it off or paint over it.....watercolours....brr...scary!!

Peggi Habets said...

For sure. There's some truth in that Sophie, and I keep telling myself life would be easier if I would just stop being so stubborn and switch to oils. But...I just can't resist the wonderful fluidity and constant surprise of those pesky watercolors. :-)