I was so excited recently when I recieved the rather brilliant gift of a week’s painting with Edward Wession expert Steve Hall, that I found a Wesson watercolour that I was particularly taken with and tried to emulate it.

At the time I felt quite pleased with myself… but I think this was in part due to feeling good just to be painting again after a period of watercolour dormancy! Anyway, feeling quite smug, I shared my effort on instagram and was delighted to receive a few likes – not to mention a very encouraging comment from the wonderful painter Thomas Schaller.

Seeking the spirit and simplicity of Edward Wesson #edwardwesson#watercolor#watercolour#sketchbook#watercoloursketch

A post shared by John (@brusheswithwatercolour) on

The longer I lived with this sketch however, the more objectively critical I became of it. The more I looked, the less I felt it was properly doing its job. Yes it’s a slightly derelict coastal windmill seen from the beach… but the shape of the beach, the sandbank running from left to right across the scene the sense of light and space, were all too vague for my liking. Then there’s the composition, a little too half and half between land and sky, and the windmill too central. The there’s the heavy handedness in the handling of the paint and the brush strokes… in fact, the more I looked, the less I enjoyed looking.

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So, having felt I’d done my original inspiration a disservice – I felt compelled to try to correct at least some of the errors that marred my first effort. Overall, I tried to be a little more discriminating with my use of colour and brush strokes – and to try not to get so carried away with painting that it became over-worked.

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I was pleased that I revisited this subject and feel much more satisfied with the outcome, which I think has a much greater sense of depth, and is much more descriptive and evocative that my original effort.

What do you think? Anyone prefer take one over take two? (I promise I won’t be offended!)

5 thoughts on “Practice makes perfect… (or at least slightly better!)

  1. I am a fan of Thomas Schaller and the fact that you received a comment from him….that is very encouraging. I agree….take two. I wonder if being critical and trying to perfect a painting robs the spontaneity in an approach to re-painting? I am asking this only because I have noticed that in myself. The more I try for what I want in a painting, sometimes I tighten up and all hopes to have it fresh and lively is lost. This doesn’t happen every time but pretty close to every time! Is there an approach that you vie for in keeping a loose and spontaneous approach to painting the same painting more than once?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well Margaret, that is the 6 million dollar question! (Or is the saying the 64 million dollar question?) I’m afraid I don’t have a solution as yet but I’m still looking. Thinking about it, on my second (or third or fourth) attempt, I’ll usually do an even more light touch preparatory drawing and, in those areas when I ended up having to go over an area twice, and then maybe go back in and fiddle around some more… I’ll make a more concerted effort to be bold and achieve the result I’m after in one hit. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. If you find a solution – please do let me know!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for taking the time to look and for your comment which I really appreciate. I half wonder if I shouldn’t do two attempts of every painting, perhaps with a week’s break in-between so that I can decide what I do and don’t like and which areas I’d like to improve on in the second attempt. Completely take your point about the retaining the freshness, I have come a cropper on a few occasions when the second attempt becomes over-worked and loses any sense of spontaneity.

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