Sometimes, less is more in a painting, as is the case with today’s painting. Yesterday I painted with a friend at the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon at Torrey Park, just north of San Diego. I finished one painting and posted it Monday.
I also brought home an unfinished one that I worked on today. You can see it below. It had the big shapes and colors blocked in but was still pretty rough and I hoped to fix several problems. However, by the time I finished, it looked overworked, which is a bigger problem than the ones I started with.
The fog had been rolling out to reveal the blue sky behind it, and I wanted to show that better. Also, I wanted the lagoon water to appear to be below the marsh plants, not above them. And then I loved my friend’s painting with its pine tree on the horizon, so I used a photo and added one to mine. Finally, I wanted more depth, so I put in some foliage along the lower left of the paper.
After making these changes, the painting looks flat and static. It lost its spontaneity and freshness, especially in the movement of the water and clouds. Knowing when to stop adding and refining is something to work on, as this sad tale so clearly shows.