Appreciating Where I’ve Been

As part of my art-organizing and general house-cleaning, I’m still going through old paintings I’ve made in the last two years, many of which I’d all but forgotten about. Most of these are paintings I hated when I first finished them. The canvases are sitting around, awaiting their turn to be re-used and hopefully turned into something better.

I was surprised, though, when this painting caught my eye:


I remember how much I disliked the painting. The tree looked so childish to my eyes, and that road! It’s supposed to go off into the distance, but I never could get it to look quite right. Oh, I remember painting and re-painting that road so many times.

The flaws in the painting haven’t corrected themselves in the time it’s been sitting around, but there are things in this painting that really speak to me. When I uncovered it from a stack of old paintings, I blinked in surprise. It’s not completely awful, I told myself. I placed it in the hallway, went back to retrieve more paintings, then stopped and looked again at this tree beside the road. For some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

There’s something there. Something I like about this painting.

I know it’s partly the colors, especially the colors of the sky. To me, there’s also a sort of simplicity about the painting. Seeing it gives me a greater appreciation of where I’ve been as an artist. Most of all, I think, it surprises me because at the time I painted it, I saw nothing good in it. I just wanted to hide it away and forget about it. Which is exactly what I did.

Finding it today made me smile. It’s not a great painting. I’m not sure it would even qualify as a good painting, but there’s something about it that I like, and whatever it is, it gives me hope that I can continue learning and growing as an artist.


  1. This is a likeable painting because it has good composition and good color contrast. The road leads your eye into the painting and makes you want to go there. I can’t figure if it’s in watercolor acrylic or oil, but in any case if you wanted now to improve the road a little (needs get skinnier once it gets between the trees and recede to a point where it disappears between them completely) or the tree (a little more rough edges so it doesn’t look like a practice piece of topiary), you would probably be **exceptionally** happy with it.

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      1. I’m agreeing one hundred percent. This painting maybe just needed to rest until you were ready to finish it, but I think the suggested actions would really surprise you with the difference they make, and the painting will suddenly declare itself complete. I say this because I’ve been in this very situation, ready to stop just short of the goal, and one or two small things all that was needed. Like magic, almost! And anyway, if you try it, and it does not work, what have you lost? A few minutes of time.

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  2. I think this is quite lovely and you did a fairly good job with that road. To make it look even more as if it is going into the distance narrow the end even more. Also things lay flatter in a painting if you do a fine gradation from dark to light or light to dark. You’re almost there with that, a wee bit darker in the foreground and more gradation into the light part might do it. You could also have it turn a little sooner and put more trees in the back of the intersection (make them light blue.) As far as the sky goes . . . IT”s Fabulous! I think what might actually be bothering you is the yellow bit down between the trees and mountains. Yellow being warm comes forward and you want that area to move back. Try making those areas a blue green that is only slightly lighter than the trees. I am looking forward to watching your journey now that I am following your blog. I suspect I will learn a lot from you.

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      1. Art growth happens! It’s surprising to me that the paintings I once worked on so hard and liked… Even framed… are not the style and level I am doing now. Takes a lot of practice to reach mastery. I think it attainable.

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      2. Yes, practice definitely makes progress, and I know I’ve come a long way since I started learning to draw about 3-1/2 years ago. And my painting has definitely improved in the 2 years since I started that. I like seeing improvements. That’s part of what keeps me going.

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  3. Isn’t it funny how absence can make the heart grow fonder? This happens to me too. Even now putting something I am having trouble with away for the evening and approaching the next day with fresh eyes is so helpful. I think sometimes it’s nice to just leave these older works and even hang some up as a reminder of how far you’ve come. It’s part of your history and evolution as an artist.

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    1. You’re right. I still have one of my earliest oil paintings hanging in our bedroom where I see it each morning. Yes, absence does change our perspective, doesn’t it! Part of it, I think, is from all the memories that come rushing back.

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