Out of 10 watercolor paintings I produce, about half will turn out subpar, and some will go straight into my personal Salon des Refusés (keep them, it helps to see what progress you’ve made). In the last few months, I’ve observed my painting practices to see if there was a correlation between my technique and the bad batches I produce. Here’s what I noticed:
- Not being in a “happy painting mood” and wanting to be done already doesn’t produce any masterpieces.
- Trying to make a painting work won’t turn it into a masterpiece. At least for me, it won’t. If anything the painting will look overworked, and there will be more muddy colors than usual.
I would like to offer a solution to my fellow painters vexed by the same problem:
Flip the paper over and paint the same scene again or paint an entirely different subject!
Artist-grade watercolor paper has sizing on both sides (check the label); there is no reason why a sheet of watercolor paper can’t showcase two paintings. You will not only notice that your painting style will be a bit more relaxed because you trick your mind into thinking it’s only for practice, you also might feel less guilty (I know I do) of having wasted expensive watercolor paper on a blah painting. I’ve used this method over the last few weeks on paintings I didn’t like. Have a look:
I’m not sure if the retakes are, by default, an improvement. What the first takes on the left have in common: They are first takes, obviously. But also: not planned through and a bit restricted, for lack of a better word.
There you have it. That is my take on dealing with subpar paintings. Have you given this method a try already? Who knows, maybe one day your “two-siders” will become collectors items…
If you would like to see swatches painted out on both sides of watercolor paper, here’s a great post by artist Chris Breier.
I hope you liked this post. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe and healthy!