it doesn’t always work


I am struggling with a piece I started last year. The view is of the Minas Basin from the back window of my house.

Starting in again, I initially made good progress.

Then, in my attempt to intensify the clouds,

I muddied the sky. But I also see, that the perspective, proportions, and some of the colours are off.   I’m a little lost. The paper feels too thin (140 hot press), and/or, there’s not enough pigment on my brush, or perhaps I need to give up and start over with a better drawing, cleaner wash for the sky, and better colour matching.


Happy to hear from other watercolour artists as to what they think will redeem this. I’m afraid lifting off pigment is not an option at this point.


20 thoughts on “it doesn’t always work

  1. If you start again and/or wash down the sky. It looks dry and to soften you clouds you need water. 140 hot press it not necessarily good for landscape I find. Not enough pigment would be my guess. Because you paint looks dark mixed on a pallet unless you have lots of pigment, you won’t get the colour. Good one to try and fix!

    1. I’ve washed down the sky twice. I’m not sure the paper will take any more. I have a sheet of 300 lb cold pressed for the next one. You’re right; the pigment did look dark when I mixed it then seemed to wash out. I think I’ll start again and use the lessons learned on the next one. Laughing at how much went wrong here and happily moving on!

  2. We learn with every picture…and with watercolour doubly so! Seems to me you’ve identified the right areas to change in order to get the painting you’re hoping for – onwards and upwards, you’ll get there! 🙂

  3. Hi I like you love painting in watercolour, but it’s not an easy medium to work in. I find that when you have to rework areas they don’t retain that lovely glow and end up getting muddy. When I have a piece that doesn’t work out I tend to either crop the picture to use areas that have worked or I use in conjunction with another medium. Failing those two ideas, I have in the past washed off the entire image, re stretched my paper and started again, you won’t get rid of all the pigment, but sometimes that can give a really nice effect. Sorry this may not be much help to you, but I thought I would share. Good Luck

    1. Thanks Jackie! It’s good to remember those options. We discussed cropping in our painting group today. Someone also suggested going more bold. I may yet resurrect this. I appreciate your input!! 😊

  4. I understand the dilemma only too well. We think something needs adjusting and undo our good work in the process. I think the sky was lovely before you went back in to darken it. It looked like a sunny sunset. Even though your clouds were lighter you had a nice range of tones. I do have some suggestions for your greens in a post I’m composing at the moment. I will publish it on Thursday if you’d like to stop by and take a look. Also thank you for being the first person to comment on my new blog.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Anne. You’re right about undoing good work. I think I achieved my goal in the finished version which was indeed a darker sky with ominous clouds. Check out my later post with the finished version. Looking forward to your post on greens.

  5. First, thaks for letting me know you enjoyed my watercolors. Second, boy have I been there and done that! I too have washed off the canvas and/or chopped it up for use in something else. I usually paint on Arches 140 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper and find it works well. I am learning to control skies especially by painting quickly in to wet-on-wet. If there are areas I want to preserve for true white, I paint the wash of water around these spaces. Then I drop in the pigments where I want them and they will not flow into the dry area. I also like using wet-on-wet because you can pick up your picture and turn it in various directions to allow the color to flow to areas you want to enhance. Some of my most successful skies have been done this way and often in a very short time, i.e. 15 to 30 minutes. Try out wet-on-wet on scrap paper to see what effects you can create. It can be really fun to just experiment.

    1. Thanks! I’ve been using wet on wet a lot more lately and dropping pigment and letting it flow. I may do this one again playing with those techniques. It’s a trust issue 🙂

  6. Hi, give 140 pound Arches cold press a try. It is very forgiving and holds up well. Hot press is more difficult. Watercolor is well worth exploring!

  7. Reblogged this on Cedarlaney's Art Blog and commented:
    I wonder if it would change the feeling if you darkened the bushes in the foreground.don’t give up. You have a nice feeling going. I think if you lifted a little of the dark over the main clouds and added some blue you would have a very dramatic picture.

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