Oh, Those Trees!

I wish I didn’t have to share this, but I feel I must. It’s my “studio version” of the “Missouri River Sunset” painting I’ve been working on… and it’s turned into yet another cringe-worthy failure. In fact, I’m going beyond the expression cringe-worthy and deeming this one an epic failure.         

There are those who say that if you’re going to fail, fail big, and that’s precisely what I’ve done with this disappointing landscape.


I’m going to go out on a limb here (pun intended) and say that I failed for all the right reasons, however. I failed because as soon as I began painting in those tree trunks — first using a palette knife — I knew what I was doing wouldn’t work. So, I shrugged it off and used the painting as a chance to try different techniques.

Next, I grabbed a brush and completed the trunks, and by that point I knew my painting was ruined, there was no way I could salvage it, so I just allowed myself to take out a few artistic frustrations. I just played with a few brushes — and more palette knives — trying different ways to create all those bare branches I struggle with. I turned my attempt at creating a good, frameable “studio painting” into one more practice piece.

Early on, maybe I could have grabbed a rag and made some attempt to correct what was going wrong. I chose not to. In a way, I think I was already moving on from this painting. I had lost interest in it, and I didn’t want to invest much more time in it. All I wanted to do was to acknowledge that, yes, once again, I know how much I need to work on painting bare tree limbs. This painting, I decided, was one I would chalk up to experience, and appreciate for what good things I had done.

Actually, I like just about everything in this painting — except for those trees. The photograph doesn’t show how truly beautiful the colors are in the river or in the lighted foreground area. My colorful sky glistens and gleams — and my husband just walked past and commented on how pretty the painting looked on the easel. Yes, it is attractive in the sense that the colors and the brushstrokes do attract a viewer’s eyes. I’d go so far as to say that I can look at anything and everything in the painting and smile — except for those trees.

The painting is filled with little lights and shadows that add depth and dimension. There are thick, impasto brush strokes that make the colors of the sky truly stand out. It could, perhaps, have been a spectacular painting, if it weren’t for those trees.

In a curious way, though, I think having those awful trees there makes me more appreciative of all that is good in the painting, and I want to say that once I finally do learn the right techniques for painting trees and limbs, I’m going to turn out some very lovely landscapes.

I can see so much good in this painting! But, oh, those trees!


  1. Thanks for sharing this. Social
    Media encourages people to only share successes and doctored images. Very discouraging to someone who is struggling and wants to learn. Thanks for the courageous choice to show it all. Plus how you changed course and used it as a learning/experimental opportunity is one more wonderful thing about this. Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The painting started off very promising, but then… I really wasn’t “into it”. So, when I tried the palette knives and started to struggle, I just said “Heck with it!” and played with my brushes and knives. It actually became fun. 🙂 That’s one of the big lessons I’ve been learning in the last year. I don’t fret about making “perfect paintings”. I just do the best I can, shrug, and move on.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I always tell myself that any practice helps, and if I learn something from my mistakes, I’m not really “wasting” time. Still, it sometimes feels that way. 😦


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