Overcoming Big Design Errors

“Blowhard II”

watercolor, 22 x 30 inches
It never fails . . .or, so it seems. When I think I know what I am going to do . . .and begin without a substantial plan . . . . .I end up digging myself out of substantial design problems.

D’ya suppose there is a relationship there?

Okay, okay! The tree part is where I put all the plan time, but the rest of it got the best of me for a good while. First off, after the painting was blocked in and I had established the darks of the tree mass, it occurred to me I would be making two, not one, but two different paintings on the same piece of paper. I had divided the paper right across the midline of the page. Ouch!! As well, I had put a number of small shapes together slightly left of center, which crossed over the dividing line.

Oh NO!!! oh yes! Not only did I need to find a way out of the space division, but also I had created a large to small contrast well away from the center of interest (upper right) and set up a competition for attention. Gads!!

That entire ‘shelf’ on which the trees stood had to be broken in some way and I had to figure a way to have that big dark value bleed down well beyond the ‘shelf’ line so I would have a large, prominent dark holding a large chunk (more than half) of the paper real estate. I had to sponge off a bunch of pigment to obliterate the small shapes then use that space to create an addition to the large dark (the trees). So I did.

All of that has taken almost five days to bring to conclusion. There is a lesson here: Plan First. And not just in the mind. Make drawings and studies first. It seems like the long way, but it really is the shorter way.

13 thoughts on “Overcoming Big Design Errors”

  1. This is so absolutely beautiful! I am not sure you have convinced me about planning first. You picture argues against you. I wonder if this would be so very good had you not had all of the struggles that made the piece. I love it.

  2. On this one I am tempted to agree with Dan. Sometimes the planning kills the drama or the spark that caught you in the first place. With your powerful style the stuggle doesn't show but I am sure the determination to win over the design flaw adds to the force wielded (perhaps unbelievably) in "gentle" watercolour.

    (Goes to studio to contemplate/re-evaluate her peaceful music…)

  3. Hi Mike, This is a wonderful piece. What I am impressed with is how you stuck it out with this piece. You have the personal resources to work through the problems. The result is an exciting, dramatic piece!

  4. Well Dan, you could be correct in that the struggles leave something behind . . .a history, if you know what I mean. But in this case, the history doesn't show up. Watercolor is more unforgiving than other media, so planning is very important. I'll stick to my guns. I have had many more successes because of planning.

  5. Don . . .believe it or not, I realize that more digging is called for in this piece. The edges along that horizon between trees and the lower section is too harsh. More fiddling!

  6. Peggy, you bring up a great point . . . . . .sticking it out. Obviously, there are plenty of times when it isn't worth it. But, in the majority of times, the struggle to get to A finish is a giant learning experiment. That 'never give up' attitude is the very thing that creates growth. There are few, if any, easy solutions. The best way to attack these situations is to develop two to three alternatives, choose one, then carry it through to the end.

  7. HI Mike, Nice description of the struggle! It's always better to hear about the suffering no? Well the dark cave zone on left in cliff really adds rest area for the eyes and combines top and bottom of picture. The repetition of lines in trees got almost zany. The whole thing works. And you can see it's the swing from the contemplative water reflection ones earlier that also are gorgeous in quieter way. You're terrific!

  8. Mike, I'm astonished with your last work and your explanations. It's wonderfull, the result of your planning, despite of the fact that it seems to be hard making a lot of tryings before painting.
    Anyway, I'm a follower that admire your works. Thanks for showing and explaining all them.



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