Do you prefer several attempts to improve on a painting or keep moving on to something new?

I feel like I always learn something from a painting whether it is a do-over or it is a fresh new subject. On the one hand do-overs give me a chance to try to fix mistakes or to try a new approach, while on the other hand a new subject often offers more interesting challenges to tackle. I often wonder if it would be better to stick to similar subjects for a while in order to master them before moving on to something else. What do you prefer to do?

I jump all over the place. Sometimes I will put a ‘bad’ one away, sometimes I will throw away bcuz it can get me down leaving it (them) here to keep looking at. I just move on. I have learned to slow down before I start a painting, so comp problems don’t mess me up.

I also like to paint according to my mood, with a little discipline of course…but then again, I never master anything!


Sometimes if I’ve lost my vision on the painting I have to put it away for awhile and work on something else. Maybe later I’ll revisit it and see if a spark will ignite again, then I will work on it again with fresh eyes.

If I have trouble with a painting, I put it out of sight for several days and then try to re-evaluate it with fresh eyes. If the problem is compositional and can’t be easily corrected I scrap it. Sometimes though, I discover that it’s not nearly as bad as I thought and after making a few adjustments or taking a slightly different direction I can still salvage it or even land up with something better than I expected.

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Gary, my husband tells me to never re-do a painting! That’s just from his experience of watching me struggle. He always tells me to throw it away and start a new one.

I find that if I work in a different medium on the same subject, sometimes the answer comes to me. Sometimes the second attempt in the other medium is such an improvement, I toss the “original”. I will move from sketches to oils to pastels to pen and ink… but not in any particular order. My son and husband have been my subjects for many drawings/paintings/sketches and roll their eyes each time they see me staring at them intently…because they know there will be a new “something” coming soon… and as my husband says, “I’m tired of looking at myself, maybe you should hire a model.” I may take him up on that.

If you believe you have mastered it you are probably deluding yourself. It takes all you have for a lifetime to just begin to know that you know nothing. That’s my take on it anyway.
Some believe there is something called “perfection.” I don’t believe it exists.

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@catek2652, you really made me laugh with this one! My family has the same reaction when I look at them or anything for
just a little too long. Ha.

I use to to do that. It was always subjected to changes until it sold and out of my hands. But, now, I work from life. Once the set-up is down, I don’t have anything to related to, no source, so I don’t usually do that anymore.