Monday, 13 August 2012

never throw your work away

I am working hard to produce work for my Open Studio event, and, panicking quietly because I only have a short time left, I thought I might relook at one or two images which were done a while ago, and were never framed.  

I took out this one.............and it sat on the table for a day or two.  I realised that the reason it had never been framed, was because I just was not happy enough with it.  I quite liked the sky........but had never been happy with that empty rectangle of water below it.  I remembered that when I had painted it originally, I thought it might be a nice quiet passage, since the sky was so "busy".  

At the time, I had been working on a series of sunset images, and had not really contemplated the image in any other way, my focus had been the sky, and that was that.

I  had a thought, and decided to reconsider the lower section of the painting.  I worked through a large box of photographs taken when I visited Cornwall some years ago, and found a number of images which I had never wanted to use, the figures were so very small and far away.  I decided to use those figures anyway, and create something new....still a sunset, but now also a proper "beach scene".  Here is the finished result. I emphasised the setting sun, added some more warmth to the sky, stroked some lighter tones into the water to make it look more reflective. The "figures" are really no more than just dots and dashes - but they read as people in the distance. (The great thing about working with pastels is the ease with which one can make changes like this - because pastels are an opaque medium, overpainting is a doddle. Although it is do-able, it would be much harder to make changes like this to a watercolour.) I have made the pic as big as I can on this blog, so that you can see what I mean.

Often, people in a scene attract immediate attention - the human element always does that;  these minute figures do attract some attention, but in a good way I feel.  They provide a small focus of attention on the way "in" from the bottom of the picture, along the edge of the water, into the distance and to the setting sun.  They also provide a terrific sense of scale.    I showed this image on Wetcanvas;  one viewer commented " I like the sense of scale much better now, Jackie. I can relate to feeling small and humbled by such a vast space, as I imagine your beach people do". 

How nice is that!  (and apologies to those who saw that post, and also follow this blog.  I felt it worth publishing again here, as there are others who read my blog but do not visit WetCanvas)

This exercise was a real lesson for me.  I could easily have binned that top image;  I knew I would never want to frame it.  Thank heavens I didn't do that.  Changing the image has given it a new lease of life. It will now go into the Open Studio exhibition. 

I recommend you keep all of your painting efforts.  Even if you do not change an image in quite this way, there is always the opportunity to find a new way to utilise one of your rejects.  I will talk some more about this next week, and show some examples.


  1. It's gorgeous! Great save--or recreation, not really a save. I thought at first that it was watercolor, and wondered how you had managed it, but then read your text--yes, you were lucky it was pastel. The top one was beautiful, but this one really has pizzazz.

  2. Jackie, the finished painting is wonderful. The person that commented on WetCanvas is so right on! The people really do add a great new dimension to the piece. Of course the sky and sunset were beautiful to begin with. I totally understand what you meant about the bottom being a little "lost."

    Thanks for reminding many of us why we might keep pieces that have redeeming qualities, just something else seems to be needed. I always enjoy pulling out older paintings to see if something can be done to make them into a frameable work of art.

  3. thanks to both of you. I like having pzzazz,Melliott thanks, and Marsha, nice comments as always.
    I am busy trying to rescue lots of "rejects" - it's fun!

  4. I love your finished piece, it is stunning! I will be heading down to the studio to haul out the work I've hidden away!!

  5. it's a great reintrepretation. the original was very nice but the warm vibrant yellows works well to balance out the blues and violets. well done.


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