Sunday, August 3, 2014

Evolution of a Country Garden

Several months ago I started a painting inspired by a long ago drive through Cotswold in England. I started with a watercolor and colored pencil painting of a thatched roofed stone cottage. I was very happy with this element of the piece.

I continued on with watercolors to frame the cottage in a country garden. I made the forground rather diffuse, and the scale of the flowers large. I was not at all happy with the feel or composition of this painting, but displayed it anyway.

Viewer feedback pretty much confirmed my own thoughts -- The composition didn't work. The blury flowers in the forground just didn't work.

I took the piece back to the studio, and painted new large flowers in bright acrylics. It was more powerful, but the colors were too vibrant. I took it back to the shop, where it hung for some time. My wife hated the panting, especially the flower colors. Some of my artist friends were more polite, but it was clear that the was not very good. Viewers were also polite, but I could tell by ther facial expressions that this was not my best work. In fact, I kind of cringed every time I looked at the painting.

I decided to either throw the piece away, or drastically redesign it. So -- I covered the entire forground with an undercoat of heavy body acrylic paint.
Then, I began to recreate an eclectic garden, but in a smaller scale relative to the cottage in the background. Finally, I painted a welcoming gate and a winding path to cary the viewer's eye to the cottage. I think that this composition works much better, and features the little cottage that was the original focus of the piece.

Now, the painting is going back to The Joyful Jewel in Pittsboro, NC for the real test -- Do folks visiting the shop like it?

Sometimes a painting goes well right from the first brush stroke. Sometimes it goes through an "ugly"stage, but works itself out fairly quickly. On rare occasions, a piece goes through several "near death" experiences before it finally evolves to completion.