Fixing a Painting that Was Almost Right

Sometime last year I painted this picture of an August sunrise in mid-Michigan.

It was almost right. I loved the sky, the mist, the clouds.

But I hated, hated, hated how the big trees turned out. It was not what I had in mind.

That’s the trouble with learning an art. So often we can picture or imagine what the finished product — be it painting or novel or what have you — ought to be, but we lack the skills to bring our vision to fruition.

Well, I’ve been painting a lot lately, and reading books about painting. And something clicked in my brain about those trees. So I got the painting back on the easel and worked on it for about twenty minutes or so. And this is what I came away with.

I fixed the trees! I made them darker, since they are in silhouette, made the edges more defined, and added sky holes where you can see what is behind it peaking through spots with fewer leaves. Now they look so much more like what I had in mind.

While I was at it, I darkened the top of the clouds a bit and added some foreground detail.

I used to be disappointed in this painting. Now I love it. And it’s satisfying to see my technique improve as I practice.

What have you been practicing lately?

What do you think?

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