Panhandle Grange #1
Panhandle Grange #2
I frequently paint the same subject 2 or 3 times - sometimes on different substrates - mostly to achieve a different look, feel or make a better painting. Both paintings have their merits when viewed separately, but when compared side-by-side, painting #2 is clearly better then #1. Below are notes comparing how different painting surfaces give different results using the same traditional watercolor techniques:
Painting #1: 8x10 on Arches watercolor board, "rough" surface. This substrate is excellent for plein air; the arches paper is mounted on an 1/16th thick acid-free core. The paint stays on the surface and dries very quickly resulting in some positives:
(1) the color doesn't "shift" into a lighter value so if I'm trying to duplicate the local color, this surface allows for more accurate color notes.
(2) A surface that dries quickly allows me to create sharper edges and stronger value contrasts in my "first go" - in most cases, additional washes aren't necessary to deepen or strengthen a color passage.
(3) Color "lifts" since it hasn't penetrated into the surface which make it easy to correct or change a stroke...even after it has dried.
Painting #2: 7-1/2 x 9-1/2 on Arches 140# cold press surface. This substrate (along with 300# paper) has been my paper of choice for 40 years. I've tried every "new" painting surface for watercolor but I always return to Arches paper; it allows me to use all the traditional techniques with predictable results.
(1) Working on this paper I can create a soft and hard edge one right after the other by simply adjusting the water on the surface or in my brush.
(2) Color and value "shifts" are very predictable; a wash will dry about 3-times lighter than when it's wet.
(3) Multiple colors can be "charged" into a wet area creating exciting light and shadow areas; reflected light is easily achieved simply by "dropping" yellow or red into a wet dark blue or purple shadow.
In addition to all the technical reasons I've mentioned....I often paint a scene a 2nd or 3rd time in an effort to make a better painting; change up the composition, or render a better drawing...or re-do an "unchangable" passage. In every case, each painting is better (in many ways) than the previous one. In #2, I made several changes resulting in a stronger statement; Adding "piers" to the foundation of the outbuilding on the left made it more interesting. I brought the viewer closer for a more intimate setting. The more intimate setting also reduced the amount of negative sky space. The focal point is more defined in the shed on the left. The tree masses in #2 are better... the background recedes for a greater sense of depth.
By the way, #1 was painted in my studio using photo and sketchbook references. #2 was a demo for my Tuesday night class, using #1 as my source. I don't think I'll do a #3.....