I learn a lot when I paint the same subject over and over. I’ve tried working out paintings by sketching, doing thumbnails, but for me, painting out a subject is more fun, and more effective. But it can be frustrating, because I don’t always know when a practice painting becomes the real thing.
This fall I decided to try a full sheet of watercolour painting, and create a large landscape of our local Peace River.
I love the layers of this first attempt, but I made a few mistakes that meant I wasn’t satisfied. I flipped the paper and tried again:
The second full sheet attempt came with its own troubles. Unhappy with the shoreline, I took a break from attempting this scene so ambitiously. I tried a few smaller studies, simplifying and editing to focus on the areas of the landscape I wanted to emphasize.
Editing makes a big difference in landscape painting. It is very easy to get distracted by small details instead of working to make the composition strong and unify all the different elements.
In the study below, I enjoyed using dynamic brush strokes to add vitality and energy. Starting to feel like the scene is coming together…
My final “Peace River Corner” painting. This one pulls together the many elements I love into one painting. So, there you have it; the path I often take in creating a painting I call “complete.” Several of the other little studies make me happy, so I might get more than one framed piece out of this landscape journey. Either way, I really learned a lot, and had fun, and have seen all my landscape paintings come a little bit easier after this particular exercise.