I ended up doing pretty good, considering how busy the month was. You can read the blog post with a photo of the whole "production" here.
A few of the September paintings were done by covering up an old painting that I didn't like.
And... oh boy!!! I think that triggered the one single most important thing I discover about myself in September: I love starting from a complex ground, that has texture, shapes, and different colors.
I enjoy the challenge of keeping some of the under-painting showing though in between brush strokes. It keeps the painting loose and creates interesting visual effects. And it feels finished much sooner, preventing the most popular mistake for all painters: over-painting.
Below you can see how I turned an old plein air landscape into a new one, step-by-step.
Over There - Painting Over an Old Unfavorite En Plein Air
I had a painting of a path I had done at the Wetstone Park, I did not like how I treated the far section of the path, and I kept it in the "can-be-fixed" stack of paintings in my studio for a long time.
After more than a year, I decided that I was not going to work on it, it was time to let go and start fresh.
8"x10" Oil on board
|The beginning stage, drawing over the old painting.|
The first thing I did was turn the old painting sideways into a vertical format, and draw the outline of the new composition. I drew with red and yellow.
Other painters, when they see me painting over an old painting like this, tell me that they would find it very confusing and distracting, especially at the beginning stages, but to me, somehow, it's fun. : )
The fact that the old painting had a horizontal layout, and the second one was vertical, and that somehow helped keeping things clear in my mind.
Second Step: Blocking in the colors that make the most impact
|Stage two, blocking shapes in.|
The first colors I put down were the two that made the most difference: the sky and the path.
I love how the old trees worked out to make the rest feel like it was already painted.
Third Step: Filling in the shapes, adjusting the colors.
Stage three. More paint in the grass and trees.
Some of the old painting's colors were kind of working for the new one, but they had to be adjusted and unified within the shapes.
I put down horizontal strokes near the path to create the illusion of flat ground, and vertical loose strokes for the tall grasses.
|That's me next to my painting. Behind, you can see the view. By this time the shadows had already shifted, but I stuck to the initial shadow plan, that left more of the path in sunlight.|
Final Step: Thicker paint.
The horizontal texture from the old tree trunks was creating a disturbing texture in the sky, which kind of forced me to go down particularly thick with the sky paint, and I like the palette knife application of the sky color.
As the time passed, the shadows moved quite a bit, and the lovely glow on the tall tree and the path faded away. Instead of trying to "chase the light" adjusting my painting to the changes in the environment, I stuck to my initial plan, and tried to make some of the branches and the path glow, the way that struck me at the beginning.
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"Reflect upon your present blessings
- of which every man has many -
not on your past misfortunes,
of which all men have some."
~ Charles Dickens