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Changing A Painting

Sometimes paintings flow from start to finish, in what feels like one sweeping movement - regardless of whether it takes hours or months. But other times they stall. They may take several wrong turns or may just end up at one point, a seeming cul-de-sac from which the end appears to be just over the wall but your head and hands can’t work out how to get that last little distance.

Sometimes that last little distance turns out to be not little at all. And it can take months or years to work it out. While the process happens in the head, and largely intuitively, sometimes it can be articulated as a literal change - or several of them.

On one such occasion I wrote down the changes I needed to make to a painting to bring it to completion, a painting I had at that point previously believed was very close to completion. Here is that list, followed by the completed painting:

  • Lengthen the mid-level grey house to the left
  • Curve the white reflection of left boat at near pier
  • Whiten refection of near pier below left boat
  • Whiten broad strokes near water, orienting to end of sandbank
  • Lower the height of the headland from the top houses to the left edge
  • Hedgerow the new top, smaller than original and disappearing over hill
  • Orangify and re-orient seaweed
  • Add refections of masts from near pier
  • Add green reflection for green boat
  • Highlight trim on lower grey house
  • Add blue boat with refection in still white water by sandbank
  • Add details in front of buildings at far pier
  • Make buoys a buoyant orange-red
  • Yellowify the stones in the near pier
  • Warm the stones of the far pier but not as much as the near pier
  • Angle the near pier down to the left
  • Lower where the road meets the far pier
  • Roughen the lower left field
  • Re-orient the alizarin water reflection break-ups so it runs from near pier to far headland

And the final painting? It’s of Ring in Cork, just south of Clonakilty and across from Inchydoney Island. Here it is - with all those changes made:

Painting of Ring just south of Clonakilty in west Cork
Best viewed enlarged

I think I have a photo of the painting before I made those changes - when I find it I’ll add it to this post. The painting itself was a commission and you can read more about it here

Anyway, this is one of the reasons why a painting I’ve told you is minutes from completion is actually still in progress months later.

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