Fixing or Fiddling?

watercolor landscape mountain, impressionist landscape,

Am I fiddling? Or ‘fixing’?

What do you think. Can you see the sequential improvements?

watercolor landscape mountain, impressionist landscape,

This watercolor landscape has undergone 3 renovations over the past year.

Originally  it started as just an experiment I wanted to try on a dampened mount board. Then, using a palette knife – I applied watercolors, allowing the paint to flow at will.



When is a painting ‘Finished’?

When to stop?

I usually  “pause” and put a painting on Hold, when I’m not certain what the next brush stroke needs – to be.

This could be 5 minutes. 5 weeks, or 2+ years.


It really doesn’t matter how long this takes. I’m here. Its here. It will keep.

That’s my attitude.



Its ‘a feeling.’ 


I get a sense of when a painting is ‘done’  when the painting has communicated the message it was meant to do.  When it has answered the question.

*When there is not even one more brush stroke I can add, that will make it any better.

Then.  I stop.   period.



This,  I must tell you,  comes from experience.

This ‘knowing,’   this feeling isn’t a thing the beginner knows straight away. I certainly didn’t know it as a beginner.

It comes.

With time. With practice.  With patience.





painting #1  The Original

I liked it.

Yet, it did not … answer the question.

It hadn’t fully communicated the message.

It was ‘underdone’  and overdone in parts.

image and post from  Epic art failures 

fun creative watercolor techniques, watercolor with palette knife, mountain landscape,
Watercolor with Palette Knife





painting #2   Second  pass

I like this second go, better.

I needed to lift paint off some areas and to regain some lights.

Also, attempting to create more depth and improve the temperature balance. ie  warm cool dominance.

image from the post,   ‘resolve those old paintings’

resolved painting
Resolved painting



painting #3 Renovation with blues

What I did with this third renovation:


Rewet the board and dropped in blue and sienna.

Created more vibrancy.


I also added a hint of a distant mountain range in blue behind the front mountain. This was to help improve the sense of depth and perspective in the landscape.


By adding these layers slowly and thinly, I gave myself the opportunity to return again. If needed.

If I go in too heavy, too hard, too dense and strong…. I’ve shortened my future chances! Well. Unless, I wash it off.   Which, is do – able.



watercolor landscape mountain, impressionist landscape,



I ask the major questions:

is there clear, evident Light tones, mid tones, dark tones?

is there a clear Focal Point in an appropriate location?

are mosthe perimeter edges, nice and soft, blurred a bit?

is it easy to envision myself, in the scene…back at the foot of the Newnes escarpment, looking up at the ring of rock face around me?


If, I can say yes to most of these then that is pretty clear to me – “We’re done here.”




At this point,   there is no more work to be done here.

Except for mounting it back onto the slate blue matt.

I’m finished.



The mountains have no more to say.





Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

24 thoughts on “Fixing or Fiddling?

  1. A valuable post and you are really hitting at something that I have been thinking a lot about and that is not rushing a painting process. The key word is “process”. We all are in too much of a hurry for an end product and it takes time and contemplation to get that painting to a finish. I think that I need to come up with a placard of all the Debi-isms and my own “isms” to go along with my much improved attitude. I am cleaning and organizing my art room (my play room!) and I am wanting an area that I can put the paintings in progress so that I can easily access them as well. A timely post, thank you again!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. you can start a list…. “M isms” LOL !! you’d have a great list 🙂
      Thank you, once again for sharing your thoughts on my post Margaret; indeed I think you’re going to inspire me, to clean my own art room! well, hopefully. 🙂 Thanks – your river friend

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s getting better. I really like the one with the blue matte. I think the original sky was too peachy and now you have more contrast between the mountains and the sky. Those few dark lines really bring out the rockiness of the mountains. Very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. great thoughts Annali!
      and yes, the blue matte helps to provide a ‘finishing’ touch even to this one I think 🙂 so, other than, matting the 3rd one – its done now!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful painting Debi. I think it has gained more depth and nuance over the revisions. I read somewhere the best time to stop on a painting is when you hear the first voice inside that tells you to stop. But I think most paintings can benefit from being put aside for a while and then taking a new look at it. Great work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks Jodi! Its great to share – from the not so wonderful, to the “I’m getting abit better now!” I remember thinking everyone but me, always got it right. ps. hows Little Miss Wonderful?! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m gonna say fixing because when I looked at the pic, I thought, oh that’s nice…and the next pic came and I said…oh, nicer and nicer! So not fiddling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent! thats always good news 🙂 thanks for stopping, and taking the time to share your thoughts – its so nice to get people to comment and share things here !

      Liked by 1 person

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