Yesterday morning I painted at a beautiful local spot that I've been wanting to paint at all summer. It was a warm and windy morning, but that side of this peninsular park was sheltered and shaded. I set up as always, and pulled out my paints and brushes. After working for a couple of hours on this painting, I decided I was trying too hard -- a common problem that I'm aware of, and working to overcome. So I pulled out a new canvas and started over using only a palette knife. In less than an hour I completed my second painting of the morning. So what do you think? Brush or painting knife?
I can't believe summer is almost over! I've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, but also attending a number of plein air events. I have always considered myself to be a studio painter for the most part, but plein air painting helps to keep me "honest" about my work. By painting from life, rather than from photos, you experience the true colors, values, lights and shadows that can be digitally altered in a photograph. The more I paint from life, the truer my studio paintings are. I just created a new "Collection" on my website called Plein Air Works. (http://www.kathleeneatonart.com) The paintings shown there are just a few of the many that I've painted in recent months and years. I wake up every morning asking myself, "What will I paint today?" And I thank God for the gifts he has given me.
This is a painting I did in Door County, WI, recently when we visited during the Plein Air Festival. I've painted this view before, but never completed it entirely "en plein air." It's an inlet on the east side of Door County, just south of the Cana Island Light.
Is it wrong to want to re-paint the same painting over again? I always want to continue to improve my work, but this idea of painting over, or re-painting, works that I've already done is fairly new to me. It started when I spoke with the owner of a gallery my work is in, who said "Everyone loves this particular painting that you did, but they want to see it in a larger size." Not long after that, I got a commission from another gallery whose client wanted one of my works in a smaller size.
Mind you, when a work is re-painted, it's never exactly the same. I spoke with one artist who's opinion was that you can never improve on a "first" work. I'm not sure that is true, based on my recent experience. Here is one painting that I sanded down and re-painted over. I liked the first one (shown beneath it) and received some good feedback on it. But this version is the result of 3 different paintings on top of the original. When I first painted over the original, I was very disappointed in the result. It was dark and looked almost like a very old painting that needed cleaning. I thought to myself, "Either I fix it, or burn it," and "If it doesn't work this time, I'll consider it 3 strikes and I'm done with it."
Maybe it's the layering of paint in this work, or the addition of the silhouette of trees in the foreground, but I feel that I finally achieved the ethereal appeal of lifting fog that is so hard to reproduce. I'd love your feedback!