What do you do when you're feeling frustrated with something that's happening in the midst of your painting? The best suggestion I have, stop right there and step back. Leave the painting alone for a few hours or a few days. Work on a different painting, or do something entirely different, and come back to it when you and your eyes are fresh again, and see what you think.
This crossroad has happened to me many times. Sometimes I succeed in walking away, other times I don't. What is happening in that moment of frustration, at least one possibility--we are too "close" to the work, literally and emotionally. Our left brain, with its specialty in technical skills, may have become too engaged in what it thinks "should" be happening, and is failing to let the painting create its own unique possibilities.
Below, you see, Sunlit Afternoon, a painting that I almost tossed in a moment of frustration. This painting has been one of my favorites since I painted it five years ago. Now, I would paint the adult whooping crane differently, showing more plumage details and shading, but I still love the interaction the painting expresses and its overall affect.
Below, is the part of the painting I like the most, largely because it's fresh and clean, and I like the colors. Cropped a little differently, it could make a small painting on its own.
Not every painting we begin makes a great painting, but there is plenty to value in the experience of painting itself. Every time I paint, I learn, gain confidence, get to know the pigments and how they interact with water and paper, and enjoy all the surprise discoveries that make watercolor such an exciting medium.
Links and Resources:
My first sunflower study can be found here: Sunflower Study
For more posts on practice and confidence visit: The Illusive Nature of Confidence and Kindergarten Efforts.
For a discussion on scrubbing or lifting paint, visit: Sketching a Limpkin