Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Friday, October 2, 2009

Re-working old paintings

When I start a new painting, I always try to make it the best painting ever done by anybody. Invariably I am disappointed by the reality of the way it turns out. Some paintings do turn out well, but most of them have some real flaws. If I'm lucky, a painting will sell right away, and I wont have to see it again.
Most paintings do not sell right away. Some of them get recycled, (painted over), and no one sees them but myself. Others get put away for later refinements, and the best paintings go to the galleries. If a painting languishes in a gallery for several years without selling, it ends up being returned to me.
Then I have to decide what to do with it. I can give it to a friend or relative. I can donate it to some local charity, or I can scrap it altogether. Some of them still look pretty good to me, but I see some way to improve on them. These paintings get re-worked. All of the following paintings did'nt sell for some reason or other, so I tried to fix them.

The Boss, 12x16" Elk are always a popular subject, and most of them sell easily. This painting came out well and I expected it to move without a problem. I sent it to a good art gallery in Fairbanks, Alaska. There it sat for two or three years, until they sent it back.
Although I was happy with the original version, I decided to play with it some more. I lightened the background, and built up the grass immediately around the elk. This painting looks good to me, and I expect it to sell soon.

King of the Hill, 16x20", Here is another painting I liked, but I had problems with the rocks on the left of the painting. Since the ram looked good, I thought it would sell. It did'nt, so I re-worked it.

First I changed the tone of the mountains in the background, hoping to bring out the ram's horns a little. Then I reduced the size of the rocks, and added some more grass with flowers. These are not significant changes, but I dont know what else to do.
Tundra Vistas, 16x20", For some reason, I used looser brushstrokes on the wolf than I usually do. This painting got chosen as a 2008 conservation stamp for the Province of Manitoba, in Canada. I thought that distinction would help it sell. It did'nt.
When I got the painting back, I realized that the eye looked too big, and the ears looked too small and close to the wolf's eye. So I fixed those things. I also raised the wolf's back, and slightly moved one of the back legs.

This painting remains untitled, 16x20".

On a whim, I decided to cut it down to 7x20". It does look a little better.

Redtail Sunset, 16x20", I was never happy with this one, but I did like the color of the sky, so I did'nt paint over it.

Finally I decided to try to improve it. Besides adding more tree limbs, I fixed the hawk's face to make it look more natural. It still looks contrived, and may never see the light of day. Time will tell.


Steve's Bird Blog said...

Your paintings are beautiful.
Thanks for leaving a message on my birding blog. It's nice to know there are people out there. Yes Utah is a unique place for birding being in the middle of a high mountain desert. The Great Salt Lake produces some great wetlands and bird habitat and so do the Wasatch and Uintah Mountains.

We have had Long-tailed ducks, Surf Scoters and White-winged Scoters for the last three winters on the Great Salt Lake. I am excited to see if they return again this year.

Erik van Elven said...

Your paintings are beautiful and I appreciate you taking the taking to walk us through the changes you made. Very insightful.