After lasts week’s rather torturous post of woe and disappointment – I’m keen to keep this week’s follow up as brief and upbeat as possible. So, in brief, I was wholly committed to painting this scene one more time and spent much of last week replaying in my mind how I’d approached my first five efforts (yes, you read that right, my first FIVE efforts!), and what I was going to do differently this time. I also spent time looking at the original photo to try to isolate what it was I liked most about it and how I might recreate some sense of that.

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Source photograph
So here’s a list of the main things I tried to do differently. I think that some are more noticeable in the final painting than others, but I’ll include as much as I can remember and let you be judge of what’s worked and what’s not.

  1. I changed the composition from being a long horizontal to a more standard quarter sheet imperial format. I felt that the weight and volume of the sky played an important part in the overall composition. In earlier versions I’d also tried to meddle with the sky to make it more interesting or colourful. In this version I kept the colour simple but still tried to introduce a lot of interest in the sky through the brushstrokes and combination of hard, soft and lost edges.
  2. I also spent time to ensure that my original under sketch had the buildings in better proportion with each other, and within the overall composition. I also avoided trying to go into too much detail at the base of the windmill, and on the sails – choosing to suggest the sails with a thin wash rather than trying to paint in every strut.
  3. I worked with a much more restricted palette of colours. In previous versions I was mixing greys using ultramarine, burnt umber and Alazirin Crimson. In this version, I relied more heavily on Payne’s grey which I also used as a base for some of the foreground greens.
  4. Rather than try to do the foreground in a single(ish) wet into wet application, I built it up with a four or five thinner washes
  5. I ditched the masking fluid, choosing instead to begin the sky with painting turned upside down, so my first brushstrokes were along the horizon line. I did still cut around some of the windmill and building but not as assiduously as I’d been doing in the previous attempts as I new I’d be going over these again with a stronger tone. Having started from the horizon line, I then flipped the painting round so it was in the correct orientation and continued as usual.
  6. In previous versions, I included the railings that ran along the edge of ‘the green’. In this one I left them out altogether because I didn’t think they were necessary.
  7. Leaving no stone unturned, I also changed paper for the first time – moving from my usual Bockingford to Saunders Waterford, 400gsm rough which was great, albeit a slightly unknown quantity.

So, taking into account all of this, here’s how it turned out:

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Try 6…
Although it will never rank among my favourites, I was just plain relieved to have produced an interpretation of this image that I felt okay about. Also, as this was always intended as a gift, I did need to reach a point where I could draw a line under it and get it mounted and framed – and this version seemed like a suitable enough point. Once mounted, glazed and framed, and from a suitable distance… I hope that this will remind my mum of a view she knows well – but I’ll let you know once it’s been presented.

In the meantime, here’s a quick slideshow of all six paintings together which, for me at least, makes for quite an interesting little journey.

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Can’t wait now to return so some kind of ‘comfort’ painting – although I’m not convinced that I’ll ever find painting truly ‘comfortable’!

20 thoughts on “A happy(ish) ending

  1. Good work. I think you addressed all the issues you had with the other versions. It’s definitely better with more sky showing, and the clouds look good in this one as well. I like the way that they run down into the distant hills.

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    1. Thanks Keith – much appreciated. I think this highlighted to me the benefits of really trying to plan out as best as possible how to tackle each element before I even start painting – I usually have a rough idea and then trust that I’ll be able to figure it all out as I’m painting which can sometimes result in a bit of panicking should anything start to go wrong, then too much overworking as I try to correct myself.

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    1. Thanks so much for such positive feedback – hopefully I won’t always require quite so much perseverance to get ‘a result’ – but I’m glad / relieved that it paid off on this occasion.

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    1. Thanks so much Susan. It’s been odd painting something you know is going to be a gift – a weird kind of pressure – totally unnecessary on the one hand and yet impossible (for me at least) not to be influenced by. I think I feel much more comfortable offering paintings that I’ve already completed – far less anxiety all round!

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  2. I think that try #6 worked! I know what you mean about the subject matter but I see interest in it and I see a confident hand. The foreground, sky and the greenery are my favorites. The buildings look grounded and very well stated. I think that your slideshow is missing? It would be cool to see it or I can go back and look at your original post. Oh, last thing, I bet the blades on that mill are well done! that alone would have made my heart go beep bop. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Margaret – really appreciate that. Funny about the slide show – it appears on my computer, iPad, and phone, but only if I view it through the WordPress app – not if I click on the email link. Not sure if I know how to fix that but shall look into it. As for the blades on the mill – I’m just pleased they’re not the be all and end all of the image!

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    1. Thanks so much Jill – and for following my endeavours and travails! Hopefully it won’t take me six attempts for every painting – I really don’t think I could bear it!

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