If at First You don’t Succeed

Try, try again. In one commission a valuable lesson reinforced itself: mistakes happen. Mistakes are like free education. They actually benefit you, but only if you get back up and with the knowledge gained from them, you try again.

Yours truly, on a hike to figure out the angles up at the barns.

That’s what I was able to do with a current commission. 30 or so hours were poured into the drawing out and painting a map of St. Marys Academy and College.

If you look carefully at each of the buildings you’ll find some wonky angles.

In the final hours of the painting, I realized in spite of all the detail and crispness of the buildings, the perspective was off.

Hiking notes being applied to the sketch.

Those wonky angles left a really bad impression, and after consulting with a few respected people, it was decided that I really should do it over again. Ever had something like that happen to you, where you came so close to concluding a huge project, and then, poof, all glory gone?

All drawn out.

Well, this is sort of what happened. But honestly, I kinda was grateful for it.

You see, when I paint commissions, my mind judges every stroke the same way my mind examines every move I make at the front of the classroom when someone is observing me. While that can be tortuous,I learned to channel the constant analyzing during student teaching: I embraced that analytical action and use it as learning experience.

After the first wash and some wet-on-wet.

So, in teaching, every time I know someone else is watching me up at the front of the classroom, I see how I could do it even BETTER: when I am working on a commission, a painting I am paid for, I go from free spirit into a more analytical mode. It’s more painful, but I learn so much. I make mistakes and see from those how I could have painted EVEN BETTER.

Fear not: that doesn’t mean all my work commission or purchased is botched. It means I am more conscious (maybe self-conscious too?) of what I normally effortlessly do when I am out adventuring and painting fall the beauty that I see.

The Studio/Dorm Room.

So, what would I change in the map, now that I have the opportunity to do so?

Well, I plan to:

  • Make sure to reload the bead with plenty of water so that the wash is even and you’re not anxious about it turning out well.
  • The initial wash will be toned down with more water and yellow ochre to help create a better sense of depth and so that the trees in the background aren’t so intensely green.
  • Redraw the buildings with adjusted, proper perspective.
  • The new Immaculata will be “jutted” up.
  • Coppens and the Convent will be properly placed.
  • A secret inside joke ought to be placed somewhere on the scene.

That all said, I’ve took Thanksgiving break off totally from the project in order to store up the creative juices to tackle the beautiful campus yet again.

This week I made a good start, accompanied by Audible cooing bookish words to me, and am hoping to finish the layout soon. That done, the painting can begin, along with the application of all that was learned in doing this the first time round.

Thanks for reading and looking all the way to the end! If you enjoyed this, please give it a like, follow this here blog, and share it with others. Cheers for now.

#watercolorpainting #watercolor #windsornewton #archespaper #artist #kansasartist #kansas #americanhistory #stmarysks #persevere #learning #experience #imperfectionista #jesuit #catholic #architeture #maps #watercolormap


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