It’s going a bit downhill

After I stopped using tutorial videos for my watercolour painting, it has all (excuse my language) gone to crap.

Everything I make basically looks like a childs painting.

Artificial colours

Too dark paint

Bad proportions

Sloppy lines

I am really starting to lose my self esteem with this medium.

This is the photograph the painting is based on:


It’s one of my favourite photos, taken in a small town south of the Grand Canyon.

It had a real cowboy feel, and as I took the photo a man suddenly came around the corner and became part of it.

There’s so many nice details there, and so many exciting colours.

I had high hopes for this one.

But, this is how the painting looked after the first wash:

The wash

And this is the final result:

Coowboy in California

The sky is ok.

The pavement on the left is ok.

And that’s about it.

It simply makes the photograph no justice.

I should have left light spots inside the porch to let the light flow in through the poles.

In fact, the whole painting should have been much, much lighter.

And the details should have been painted in a much looser style.

And I should have planned it all better from the start.

I’ve probably written all of this in ten posts in a row now, but I just don’t seem to get it in my head and start doing it.

I really want to be able to paint nice paintings all on my own, but I think I’ve realized that I have to go back to using a couple more tutorials.

This isn’t working out very well.

But, frustrating or not, I’ll keep at it and I will get better in the end!


19 kommentarer om “It’s going a bit downhill

  1. «But, frustrating or not, I’ll keep at it and I will get better in the end!»

    This single sentence says it all for me, it could be a statement from those who are often regarded as the most successful in life.

    1. Thanks, Steve 🙂 I’ve never felt such an urge to get better at something than with painting and drawing. There’s been loads of frustrating moments and bad sessions, but it’s always been fun, and I’ve never considered for a second quitting. Seeing work like your own makes me see the results I could be able to achieve one day myself if I keep working towards it:)

  2. As someone who likes paintings that are very saturated and colorful I have to say that I don’t find your choice of color childish at all. But I can understand how frustrating it sometimes feels to have a specific plan in your head but not be able to put it into practice. See it this way: Your taste seems to be refined already, now you have to practice to catch up to actually doing what you want to achieve. You are half way there.

    As for specific tips, I would also recommend, as the other commenters did, you start with a simpler motive to get the basics right and build complexity up later. If you want to further your skills in mixing the colors, this video about how to choose the right ones may be of help (

    By the way, even very experienced paintingers work with reference and look at tutorials from time to time. You always need to keep practicing your basics. So this is nothing to be ashamed of. Keep up your painting!

    1. Thank you for the uplifting words, Soph 🙂 And thank you for sharing the video. It was very useful, since I actually have the colourwheel on my wall, but clearly didn’t know that much about it 😀

      I will be going back to tutorials for a while now, and I’ll try to keep it more simple and clean when I get back to doing my own ones again 🙂 In retrospect, I think I definitely learned a valuable lesson from doing this painting 🙂

      1. Oh, yeah, I wish I stopped to use my colorwheel more often. It is a rellay helpful tool.

        Good plan. I certainly think you will improve after this! 😉

  3. The best advice I got was to paint a lot. For a long time I worked on smaller paintings. Continuing to learn and grow with each. I read a great book, Daily painting small and often by Carol Marine. I think it really helped me. It gets better and easier over time, just keep at it.

    1. Thanks, Patty Anne ☺ I do certainly plan to keep on painting, and are determined to get better at mastering watercolour. I’ll put the book title in my «things to buy-list» as well ☺ I do believe it will get better with time ☺

  4. Keep it up and never give up! I agree with most of the comments made by others – the subject you chose is quite tricky. I almost always use pen and wash and I agree that your subject would have been easier if you’d done that. I’d also say “draw from life” – personally I find photos really hard to paint from – they are so flat. Anyway keep it simple and keep at it!

    1. I will! 🙂

      And I’m sure a pen and wash would make it a bit easier for me 🙂 I’ve done some tutorials online, where I’ve used a watercolour pencil to sketch out the most important parts. So I guess I’ve just kept doing it without reflecting much on it.

      I do want to draw from real life, but I just feel a bit self-conscious about it. Like if people wanted to have a look, but I don’t feel it’s good enough. I know I shouldn’t worry about such things, but I find it hard not to 🙂

      1. Have you considered joining urban sketchers groups? I always find if I’m in a group sketching I am less self conscious or worried about what passers by might say

  5. That is not failure. It is a peace of paper. Do it again. Paint many times if necessary. Keep learning and practicing and you’ll improve. There is not overnight success in watercolor. All you need is love for this medium and be consistent. Regards

    1. Thanks a lot, Jose! 🙂 It means a lot getting comments from so many talented people out there, and I realize that it takes hard work to get there 🙂 I do love the medium, and simply can’t get enough of watercolour painting at the moment. The way the colours blend and the paint comes alive on the paper is simply amazing. I’ll keep at it! 🙂

  6. First, I would like to say that as a reader of your blog I appreciate your honesty. It’s difficult to share things that you consider a setback. So kudos for being brave!

    Now, I’m not a painter, I only practice two mediums (for now) those being graphite and pen & ink. However, I think Anna’s comment makes a lot of sense. The image you chose has a lot going on, lots of detail to reproduce in the painting. I think it may help you to concentrate on simple scenes until you build your experience and confidence. Choose to focus on an item or two that really draws you into the scene. I think if you get the details right in a few key areas you can afford to relax a bit in other areas within the painting and still convey the overall feel of the scene to the viewer.

    I enjoy creating graphite portraits, I find the features of each individual’s face unique and that’s what inspires me to create their portrait, but often I do not place much emphasis on the clothing or even the background. I just want the facial features to stand out.

    I think you should definitely keep at it and eventually, everything will fall into place.
    Good luck with your future paintings!

    1. Thanks, Michael. And thank you for the comment 🙂 I’m very glad you appreciate that part of the blog. I decided early that I wanted to post every single painting I made, and not cover up the «mistakes». In case someone who reads the blog wants to start painting, I want to show an honest depiction of the process, with both the good and the bad. It’s also quite fun to see some of the bad ones after a while. It just makes the whole journey it a bit less serious 🙂

      I’m sure you and Anna are right, and I do agree as well. I have a hard time not getting carried away, trying to get in every single part of a scene. I should also get (a lot) better at spending some time planning the paintings beforehand. I’ve never been a planner, and tend to get too impatient getting on with it. I’ll try choosing some key parts to focus on in my future attempts.

      I’ll keep at it. And have high hopes for the future 🙂

  7. You chose a very difficult subject. So many elements in it to master. Perhaps start smaller in terms of detail. Check out the work of water – colourists, count how many details they use. Your photograph is more suited to pen and wash, or acrylics. I applaud your dedication to self-analysis. Evidence that you are, most certainly, learning. Try pen and wash with a waterproof pen. 👍

    1. I think you’re right. I was a bit uncritical choosing elements to focus on. All in all I tend to plan poorly, as I just want to get on with the painting. «It’ll work out», I tell myself 😉 I usually write the posts right after the paintings are done as well, so I’ll have lots of fresh thoughts about them. That probably makes me a bit more harsh than I would be the day after, though ☺ I guess pen and wash would make it easier for me getting the paint in ☺

Legg gjerne igjen en kommentar før du går