Reworking a painting

When is painting finished?

Sometimes, you just know. That’s done, I can do no more, I’m happy with that (or at least as happy as I’m ever going to get)

Sometimes, you don’t stop when you should and those rich colours become muddy and that perfect sky just doesn’t look right anymore.

Then there are those paintings that almost work, paintings that never quite feel right, but have a certain something that stop me cutting them up or painting over them.

This painting is one that I’ve gone back to and reworked

This is a view at Breakish on Skye, looking towards Broadford. The painting on the left is the original and the view on the right is the reworked painting.

I haven’t changed the background at all, except to add a little more detail to the trees on the left, so it’s interesting that the houses seem brighter and the blue hill in the distance seems much greener. I felt that the foreground lacked detail and that the fields needed simplification, so I did that, but there was still the problem of the tree on the lower right of the painting.

The tree is the one that is actually there at Breakish. I liked the shape of it, but felt that it just didn’t work in the painting. It was too close tonally to the fields in the background, it was also too small and seemed to disappear in the composition. I felt there needed to be a strong diagonal framing the houses in the distance and leading the eye to the houses. So I painted a pine tree that’s actually miles away at Garve, one that I sketched for an earlier painting. I liked the clump of rosebay willowherb that’s in front of it and the small lime green bush. I felt that the reddish pink of the willowherb helped highlight the red roof and the reddish brown seedheads help draw the viewer’s eye into the painting too.

It’s strange how much brighter the painting seems to be, without me changing the pallette at all. I think I’m happy with it, I certainly like it more than I did before.

I have an exhibition coming up at the end of October – all being well. So I’m going to leave it for now and see if my opinion changes when I’m ready to start framing.

Meanwhile, I have quite a lot of new work in various stages of completion. I’ll take my time with them and let them evolve slowly and maybe keep returning to them over the next few weeks

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