One of Those Days

Recently I wrote about good days and not so good days.  We all have them, right? Well, for me, Tuesday was a good day. I finished my first still life, and I was pleased with it. I went on to complete a portrait, and I was pleased with it, too. I also worked on two other projects — both landscapes — and I was quite happy with how those paintings are going. Yes, it was a very good day.

Wednesday, however, was a different story. Even though I was excited about getting to my easel and was looking forward to completing one landscape I’ve been working on, things quickly started going wrong.

WIP (2)What happened, I think, was that I started the morning off feeling just a bit intimidated. Even after the previous good day, I had a few doubts about my first project. It’s one, you see, that has been going well.

The photograph isn’t very good. Much of the paint is still wet here. My intention for the morning’s painting session was to work on a rocky foreground. Sometimes I do rocks well. Other times… well, this was one of those other times.

I could not get my rocks to look anything like rocks. Yes, that blob of gray by the waterfall will, hopefully, eventually look like rocks, but as you’ll see everything on the left has been wiped away. My first attempt was mediocre. I thought I could do better. So, I tried again. Worse. Again, I tried to fix the problem, and no matter what I tried my results looked worse with each attempt.

“Well,” I said to myself, “it’s going to be one of those days.”

I’m pleased that I recognized that fact and found ways to avoid further frustration. Well, almost. I did spend a good part of the morning re-arranging paintings on our walls. I organized a stack of canvas panels. I read newsletters from several art clubs.

And then, before clean-up time arrived, I went back to the easel once more to start another landscape. It’s a simple one, mostly colors, and it’s based on some of the practice sessions I’ve done in the past, learning to create light in the sky.

This is really another practice piece, and I wanted to go big with it. Since I wasn’t having a great day, I chose an old canvas panel, one I’d used before. The scene wasn’t worth saving, and I’d been planning to paint over it. So, I did. Unfortunately the paint from the original painting was very thick and textured in places. Even with a sturdy palette knife, I couldn’t scrape the old paint off. Oh, well. This is all a learning experience.

But then, again, things started to go wrong. The biggest problem was running out of black paint. I have more on order, but it hasn’t yet arrived. Even so, the brightness of the light cheered me up a bit.

Here’s how it looks right now.

Sky Glow (2)

I guess it doesn’t look like much yet, but I can see some potential in it. The lower portion will be trees — and maybe a house or two — in silhouette. Even in this photo, you can see the thick textured paint from the old painting, and there’s nothing to be done about that. It’s all right though. I’m just considering this a practice painting, and if it turns out well, I’ll do it again on a new canvas. It’s a fun exercise for blending and for creating that dramatic sense of light.

It was also a good project to work on while I was having  one of those days. It didn’t require a lot of careful work. It didn’t even require too much thought. All I needed was a bit of a plan, a few big brushes, and, well, yeah… black paint. For now, I made do with a bit of gray and just shrugged it off.

I didn’t get discouraged. I didn’t give up. I did end up with a couple of projects “on hold”, but that’s how it should be, I think. Those projects will still be there waiting for the next  good day to come along — and waiting, too, for that black paint to arrive.






  1. You can mix black with equal parts burnt umber and ultramarine blue. It’s a better black than the black in a tube because it’s not dead. You can make a warm black by using more burnt umber or a cool black by using more ultramarine blue. Mix it on your palette with a palette knife, never directly on the canvas.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, thank you so much for the excellent advice! I will give this a try as soon as I get to my easel. I think one reason why I’ve had problems getting lots of contrasts in my paintings is because I’ve shied away from using black — because it does seem so “dead”. This is going to be fun to try out! Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you can use the tip! You’ll find that your grays will come out nice and not dead. Mix any color into it and some white then you can get a full range of values and tints.

        Liked by 1 person

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