Dangerous Waters: The Temptation To Overwork A Painting

"Breaking the Day" 17 x 23 in. Mixed Media on Paper
Another workshop, this time working from digital art-- in this case it was Randy Sprout's "Fortuna on the Spot"

(Click here to view Randy Sprout's original piece:http://www.redbubble.com/people/randysprout/art/4863131-fortuna-on-the-spot)

To participate in Sojie 13, I chose to approach Randy about his piece for two reasons: I loved the bold composition of the digital work, and I have a strange need to paint boats on a regular basis. I thought I would approach the piece as an acrylic painting with chalk pastel as a top layer. It turned out to be more of a pastel painting on an acrylic surface, because I ended up covering the entire acrylic painting with the chalk.

It started off simple enough, and I liked my original sketch so much I had to convince myself to get started with the paint. It's not that I have such a high opinion of my sketching abilities, but rather that I always enjoy the beginning stage, when I'm first getting an idea down on paper:

(Rough sketch done with blue chalk pastel on gessoed watercolor paper)

Once I worked up the courage to add some acrylic, I mapped out values and a little color and texture:

(Acrylic underpainting, done on top of pastel sketch)

This sat for a couple of days as well, as it's always hard for me to go back to a painting once I take a break from it. This is because the anxiety starts to set in, and I always fear I'm going to screw the whole thing up when I take it to the next stage. Pastel is my "old steady" medium, however, and knowing that I would enjoy myself once I got going with the chalk helped motivate me to finish the final stage.

(Final piece: chalk pastel on top of acrylic underpainting)

The last stage was definitely the biggest struggle for me, as I had to walk away from the painting a few times because I caught myself overworking the piece. How do I know when I"ve hit that point? There are several clues: adding "details'" that aren"t making much difference in the piece, feeling frustrated because there are tiny flaws (which produce new flaws once addressed) and an overall impatience because I know the piece is done, but I can't stop picking my materials up and going back to it.

I finally just signed it and walked away from the work, forcing myself to take a break, and declared it officially done. I still ended up changing a little of the water, but this was because I saw a need to lighten it after seeing a work in progress and noting I had lost some of the contrast (another bad side effect of overworking!)

After it's all finished, a little breather from the work gives me new appreciation for it, letting me know that it really has reached the final stage and I can move on to other projects.

To view the Sojie 13 workshop in its entirety, click here:


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