A Disappointing Start

World Watercolor Month is here, and I’m looking forward to doing a watercolor each day. I actually started a day early so I’d be able to post a painting for today. I know I’ll improve over the next thirty days, yet I have to say I’m disappointed with today’s efforts.

Oh, there’s a lot I like about it. I like the sky. I like the distant mountains. I like some of the trees, too. But I don’t like the little house and outbuilding. I don’t like the fence either. Once I added those, I liked the painting less and less, and each time I tried to “make it better” in some way, I ended up making it worse.

Watercolor 160632

Unlike a lot of my paintings, I didn’t start with any drawing but just decided to “wing it”. I had a vague idea in my head. A sky, a mountain, a little farmhouse. It was intended to be a bit of a challenge because I’m not good at buildings of any sort. Once I’d painted the sky and the mountains, I added the most distant trees. I did let the painting dry, and then I used a graphite pencil to lightly sketch in the two buildings, trying to gauge the right size.

After that, it all went downhill. I put in a fence — for no good reason — had no idea where to begin or end, and then tried adding in a tall tree beside the house.

It could be worse, I know.

I suppose the best way to learn to paint houses and barns and other buildings is to simply keep doing them, so you’ll probably see more farm scenes over the next thirty days. And yes,Β I will get better.



  1. I think it’s nice, soft and peaceful view. I know how critical can be to own works. I’m that always, but I also believes to better future. The most important thing is to be bold, as you were. I also feel that my first work in this month was a disappointment, I think my Zepra looks silly, but I don’t have time to do it again today. Maybe it’s difficult because try to force creativity, it must flow freely.

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    1. Thanks, Carol. I think I’d like it better without the structures. I want to challenge myself though, so I’ll just keep adding barns and buildings until I get better πŸ™‚

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  2. You know what Judith, it would help if you scale down in size to painting something that is a vignette or portrait of something….it is very common (and a trap) when first starting out to paint a large landscape or a pastoral…..know what I mean? I did the same thing and it is daunting to say the least. So, I suggest painting a small corner of your world…..like on a patio or your favorite flowers….I suggest starting small in subject matter and then go big. I watched a video about John Singer Sargent and it was mentioned that he would take a corner of his world and do a “portrait”. All the other artists of the time were doing paintings that were large scale. He brought it down to a more personable view. I think this will help you to get more comfortable with watercolor and not feel overwhelmed. Just a suggestion πŸ™‚ If you look at your sky, your mountain, it has such a feeling and nice flow. You even knew to add that tree at the bottom left to help contain the viewer’s eye. Scaling down to a smaller portrait of something will help segue you into doing something larger.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Margaret. I will definitely give that a try. Most of the watercolor books I have focus on the larger-scale scenes, so that’s where I’ve begun, practicing skies and distant hills and mountains. I need to work more on the close-range scenes. Glad you mentioned that. πŸ™‚

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      1. I can see why they suggest that….it can be also a trap of getting tight and restricted going smaller but….if you have that in mind and keep the idea of “loose” always in your mind while working smaller, it would help. You can always alternate between the large scale scenes and smaller portrait work to keep from getting tight and into detail.

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      2. I think my “style” is evolving into something in the middle. I don’t want to go “too loose” but I certainly don’t want to go “too controlled” either. I’ll play around with close-range but keep it somewhat loose. I think that will suit me just fine πŸ™‚

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      3. Today’s painting was one of those “happy accidents”. I’m getting ready to write and schedule a post to show it off tomorrow πŸ™‚ I like it.

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  3. Hi Judith, I think you’re way too hard on yourself. The sky and the mountains and the trees are good. There’s a lovely peaceful atmosphere to the painting… Do you know what I would do if I was working on it? I would sort of β€˜wash away’ the house and fence ( wet them and then dab with a tissue so that the paint is sucked off the page) Then I would go back over that area with a much darker colour – Burnt Siena maybe – and paint in a new copse of darker trees. These darker trees will be a nice contrast to the lighter ones behind and it’ll create greater distance in your picture… What do you think? Worth trying? Best wishes for now, I’m enjoying you posts, thank you, eoin

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  4. Ay, not bigger and meaner critic than yourself, right? I personally think this a very peaceful and soothing image, I love it. Just put it away for a while and look at it again after a few weeks…you might be pleasantly surprised and think after all, it is actually ‘quite nice’ = the highest praise I give myself ;o) I think it’s absolutely lovely! xo Johanna

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  5. Hey Judith, that sky has turned out super aweome, i just loved it 😍
    you know what, the same thing happened with me after my long break I started with painting so thought let’s paint a landscape from my recent road trip and started almost 60% done as planned and then I wanted to add cows but it turned out something else.. and then same each time i tried to make better it became worst πŸ™‚
    so it’s all normal, just be patient and start new one. Don’t be disappoint friend πŸ™‚
    Happy painting πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks. I really do like the sky, and I was happy with the mountain, too. You just described exactly what I went through. Every time I tried to make something better, I just made it worse. Thank goodness I finally made myself walk away from it. πŸ™‚ Happy “art-ing” to you!

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  6. You’re doing great, Judith. Keep your chin up. By the end of this month, you’ll be amazed by your progress, I think. I think there is a landscape painter inside you. I also think Margaret’s advice is wonderful. This is where I’ve come to in my WC journey, such as it is (as I’m much happier with acrylics, I’ve now learned). I just try for little sketches. You have something great in there, you and WC and landscapes. Way to go, you! I like your post today too, just gotta go over and read and see more but it looked great just flashing through quickly.

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    1. Thanks. I really do like painting landscapes, so I’m using the month to try a lot of different approaches and styles. Every day will probably be a little different. That’s going to make for an interesting month. πŸ™‚

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