If It Looks Wrong Change It

So many of the artists that I have studied under have said this. I got very tired of hearing it but I did it occasionally, enough to hate the time and hassle of changing large or even small portions of a painting. I know that the great masters changed many of their paintings. We know this because of x-ray investigation of their works; with the exception of Vermeer they all show large changes. I’ve always thought this was due to commissions; the person forcing the change was the one with the money.

I’ve just realised that I now make large scale changes to my paintings because it looks wrong or just doesn’t match what I had in mind. Acrylics have made this easier. The option always existed with oils it’s just easier with acrylics. Now when things look wrong I change it (things often look wrong). Fast drying acrylics allow me to do this quickly. I don’t have to wait days or weeks for paint to dry before I make the change. I tend to put acrylics on more thinly than I used to with oils so this is also a benefit.

I likely wouldn’t have noticed this if I wasn’t taking pictures of the work I do. I take a picture every day, sometimes more often. With digital images it costs nothing. As a result I have a complete record of each painting. I can see the evolution of the work from start to finish. This is useful if you have to re-paint it or in my case if I just want to analyse a painting’s progress.