Making More Mud

I’m not happy with this one — but, to my credit, I didn’t get frustrated and wipe it away. Instead I chalked it up to another learning experience, specifically one more lesson about the danger of creating a veritable mudslide with my oil paints.

Landscape 12-03 (2)
Red Earth – Oil on Canvas Panel

I used a similar idea to my Autumn Gold painting, but I wanted to work with a completely different color palette. I also wanted to play around with a palette knife, something I haven’t done for a long, long time.

Since I have a lot of disappointing, all-but-ruined canvas panels sitting around my easel, I’m been picking them up, covering them with a thin coat of paint, and starting all over with them. It’s a comfortable way for me to work. I feel free to experiment since I’m not concerned about wasting a canvas panel. I suppose it’s never a waste to complete a painting, although sometimes when things just don’t turn out the way I’m hoping, that’s how I feel. Re-using a canvas gives me a “well, anything I do will be all right” feeling.

This one started off very promising. Originally the foliage on the trees was a rich red-violet hue with deeper shades of blue violet interspersed. But problems came when I tried to add highlights. Yes, too much medium — which with these paints means water. I ended up with a mess of mud, and despite efforts to correct the problem, I never could get back to the gorgeous colors I’d had at the start.

Hopefully, it will be lesson learned and with my next painting perhaps I’ll be more thoughtful, more cautious, more aware of what I’m doing as I paint yet one more woodland scene.

Although I was very disappointed with my muddy foliage, I was rather pleased with my foreground — usually my weakest area. I like the reds and blues I worked into the ground, and creating the sunlit pathway with the palette knife was lots of fun.

So, it was a good day, and a not-so-good day. At least I can look at this painting and know exactly what I did wrong and what I can do better next time. So, for my next time at the easel I’ll play around with another very similar woodland scene. I’ll use different colors. Maybe I’ll use evergreen trees instead of leafy trees. I’ll probably make a more winding path. And I’ll do my best to not make any more mud.

8 Comments

    1. Thanks. The colors were so much prettier before I tried highlighting them… very deep, rich violet blues, and red-violets. And I love the way I was able to intermingle the red and blue in the foreground. But my colors ended up just a bit muddy on those tall trees. I’m learning… now I just have to keep practicing. I’m glad you like the painting. 🙂

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  1. I like this too. The path is so well done, it pulls you along and then there’s that contrast between the red trees and the sky behind. Do I dare say, maybe some darks in the trees rather than highlights?

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    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you like the path. I had a lot of questions about whether or not I’d placed it properly into the scene. Pathways have always been hard for me. 🙂

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  2. For the love of all that’s holy, please look at this painting as if you had no preconceived intentions about it when you started. It is a lovely painting, light attracting the eye initially in the foreground and leading us into the atmospheric perspective of the background. One of the hardest things for some artists to accept is that they wanted “this” but ended up with “that”, without taking into consideration the virtues of the unintended “that”. If it had been painted by someone else I bet you’d say you love it. Please don’t trash this or paint over it, at least for a few weeks. Put it away for a while and come back for a peek later. See if it doesn’t look different to you. And if you still think it needs highlights it will be dry enough then to paint them in without having them mix with what’s underneath.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I do like a lot about the painting. I was just so disappointed in the colors on the trees. At first, the colors were rich and vibrant… and then I dulled them down. I wish, too, I’d put a little more light in the sky. Oh, well. I’m glad you and others like the painting. That does give me hope that I’m on the right path and that continued practice will lead to more improvement.

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