Tuesday Tips #4 Try and try again!

Watercolor painting of autumn leaves

October leaves with redone background. Watercolor 11″ x 14″ Available. Click on image to view larger.

My tip today is to not be afraid to rework your painting.  After all, it’s only paper!!  If it doesn’t work out as planned, you can lift or scrub or even WASH off the paint under a faucet and work with the colors and shapes remaining.

This is a painting that I did last year and I put a cobalt blue background on it, thinking that the orange in the leaves and the blue background would pop and that it would be a good idea!  well, maybe applied differently it would work, but it didn’t for me.  See the next photo down.  I used the blue too thickly, and it concentrated in places, and I wasn’t able to move it. At the time I was intimidated by backgrounds and I thought…oh well, that doesn’t look good.  and I left it.

previous painting of leaves

Previous version of October leaves with vibrant blue background. Watercolor 11″ x 14″ Click on image to view larger.

This week I pulled it back out and thought, I like the leaves and I have nothing to lose if I scrub off the background.  So I did.  I also took a photo of it in its naked scrubbed self, but somehow I deleted  misplaced that photo so I can’t upload it.  I hate when that happens! It would have been so cool to show you.  Rats.  If I find it, I will upload it.

Anyway, as to the process: I used an older brush, wet it, wet the areas I wanted to lift off color and blotted it off with a tissue.  Sometimes left the water on longer and then blotted it.  “Rinsed, lathered, repeated” until the offending blue was gone.  I was left with a mottled effect of blue staining that I thought might work under browns or greens.

So I put down some lighter tones on top, let them dry, and then came in with darker tones and negatively painted the leaves that appear to be “under” the pile of vibrant ones.

Framed painting

Finished October leaves in square copper finish frame. Watercolor Framed size 18″ square. Available. Click on image to view larger.

So, do I like it now?  Yes, I do because it’s rescued.  If I were to do it again, I would want clearer more transparent tones in the background, but that would be a different painting, not THIS one.  So yes, I like it. Do you?

And I put it quickly into one of my favorite frames, a copper finish square one.  I think it looks pretty good!

22 thoughts on “Tuesday Tips #4 Try and try again!

  1. Love it Rachel. What gorgeous warm colors. And a great sneak peek of whats around the corner of us here in the north. And great tip too! I remember one of my favorite instructors always saying, “don’t be afraid! Afte rall its only paper!!” which you reminded me of. Really enjoying your blog and your beautiful watercolors. ~Rita


  2. Excellent advice, Rachel! It is nice when you get to that point that you have a body of work and have saved the old paintings to rework as you learn new things. We do this in our classes, here, from time to time. I like how you re-worked this. Great job! Some people get too concerned about their judged mistakes, me thinks and are too quick to stop on things, fearing over-working. I don’t know who invented that idea of over working because there is always something an artist can do to rescue, even if it means getting the matte medium out and collaging into something. Good post!


    • Wow, thank you Leslie! Reworking old paintings is kind if liberating don’t you think ? After all they were judged as duds, so they can’t really get any worse, can they!?? They csn only improve. Love the idea of using them in collage. Thanks for your long note.


      • Yes, liberating indeed. After a time, reworking doesn’t even mean much. That particular painting just waits until the artist’s inspiration moves to meet what it needs. Who ever said we have to have everything done in a certain time frame or that we can’t work on several different works in different stages? I think it is just that we were raised to finish what we start and we all assume that means right now as fast as we can. Some artists cut up old paintings but I find the thick watercolor paper hard to work with. I like to collage, with other papers, into the painting itself.


      • I agree with you about doing things in stages. It helps to let things kind of percolate in the back of your mind . I realized on my dog walk this morning that I figured out how to do a background for a piece that I’ve done before and want to do again this year. I will definitely keep in mind the advantage to using thinner paper for collage.


  3. Pingback: October Leaves accepted to Arts International! | Rachel Murphree Watercolors

  4. Pingback: October Leaves sold! | Rachel Murphree Watercolors

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