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3 Ways To Fix Those Painting Booboos

Updated on August 25, 2015
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40 years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

Tea Roses Watercolor Painting

My fixed Tea Roses.
My fixed Tea Roses. | Source

No one’s perfect.

Every now and then and artist creates something that didn’t come out just as imagined. This doesn’t mean that it’s a disaster or a mistake. We don’t make mistakes…. Only happy accidents. But even with happy accidents, there are occasions when I hate how a picture came out. What then? Do I throw it away and start over? Sometimes. But first I see if there is a way to fix the mistake or area that didn’t come out as planned.

Oils vs Watercolor

This is where most artists say they like acrylics or oils best. You don’t have to discard a painting altogether to fix areas with oils and acrylics. Just paint over them. You cannot do that with watercolor. The very nature of watercolor is to keep it’s transparency. So if an area got too dark, there are some ways to pull the color back up but only to a point. Some of the paint will have seeped deep into the paper and will never come off.

Tea Roses Reworked

Tea Roses original.  Disastrous background.
Tea Roses original. Disastrous background. | Source
Slowly wet areas to pull up paint.
Slowly wet areas to pull up paint. | Source
Use a stiff brush.  Scrub softly.
Use a stiff brush. Scrub softly. | Source
Pull up the paint with a soft cloth or paper towel.
Pull up the paint with a soft cloth or paper towel. | Source
Revised painting looks much better with a lighter background.  Most came up but not all.
Revised painting looks much better with a lighter background. Most came up but not all. | Source

Watercolor vs Oil or Acrylic

Do you paint with Watercolor?

See results

Method #1: Work slowly

In the case of my Tea Roses, I noticed that the background was so busy that it took away from the focal point of the roses. I was disappointed. I thought the darkness would bring out the color but it didn’t. Now what? Slowly I used a stiff brush and water to loosen the color and dab it with absorbent paper towels. I worked in small areas at a time, moving along the perimeter and working my way inward. This took some time but the results were much more favorable that throwing the painting out and starting over.

Source

Alone Again

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The elderly lady's hands worked better with a dark background and whitish rim than the other way around.White line shows where the rice paper was glued.
The elderly lady's hands worked better with a dark background and whitish rim than the other way around.
The elderly lady's hands worked better with a dark background and whitish rim than the other way around. | Source
White line shows where the rice paper was glued.
White line shows where the rice paper was glued. | Source

Method #2: Collage

I created a painting of a lady’s hands from a photo and unfortunately painted the railing and background just as they appeared in the photo. This is one of those cases where I should have taken artistic license and changed the photo to enhance the subject. The railing looked bad and created an unpleasant tangent with her fingers. Painting over the dark area was not an option. Light watercolors will not cover dark ones. I tried pulling up the color and that helped only a little. The tangent created was still evident. What now?

I went to the art store and found some lovely textured rice paper. Buying a variety, I returned home, tore the paper and glued it to the offending areas of the painting using a thin mixture of white glue and water. After the rice paper dried, I repainted some of the areas that had been covered and left the rest whitish.

No longer just Watercolor

Now this is not a pure watercolor since paper has been added so when I entered it in an art show, I had to use the category of mixed media/collage. However this painting received an award. The collage made a disastrous painting successful.

Tiffany Portrait

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Objects copied from my Nature Journal.Red outline shows where the rice paper was glued.
Objects copied from my Nature Journal.
Objects copied from my Nature Journal. | Source
Red outline shows where the rice paper was glued.
Red outline shows where the rice paper was glued. | Source

"A Walk In The Woods With Tiffany"

This same technique was used to save a portrait I did of my niece. Working from a photo again, I painted a portrait of my niece with a window and climbing roses behind her. The background again was so busy that it took away from the charming girl. I tried washing the roses away as before but the outlines were still there. So once again, I got some rice paper and glued it all around the girl. When it dried I drew a boarder and painted some shadows lightly with watercolor over the rice paper. Then I added some objects from my Nature Journal. I call it “A Walk In The Woods With Tiffany”. Once again, I won an award for this painting.

Nature Journal Pages

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fiddlehead weedBlue CurlMushroomDog's ToothIndian Paintbrush
Fiddlehead weed
Fiddlehead weed | Source
Blue Curl
Blue Curl | Source
Mushroom
Mushroom | Source
Dog's Tooth
Dog's Tooth | Source
Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush | Source

Nature Journal

I think every artist should keep a Nature Journal drawing and painting little things of interest where ever they turn up. This can be a reference later as in this painting with the nature objects around Tiffany.

Mixed media book

Paintings

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sunset paintingFence postsHeart BoxesOblong boxesOblong box pattern #1
Sunset painting
Sunset painting | Source
Fence posts
Fence posts | Source
Heart Boxes
Heart Boxes | Source
Oblong boxes
Oblong boxes | Source
Oblong box pattern #1
Oblong box pattern #1 | Source

Method #3: Mixed media

When you have created a painting, even if you don’t like all of it, there are usually parts that came out very well. And watercolor paper is good heavy paper, not cheap. I have created many a craft project using watercolor paintings that were only partly successful because of composition or color choices. I have several patterns that utilize watercolor paper and make great gifts.

Boxes, bags, and fans

You can create boxes with your paper. See included pattern. I have also created a book of boxes to be used with watercolor paper.

You can create fans, which come in very handy at family reunions. These are invariably held in parks during the summer months and therefore make great gifts. I have written a few articles on making fans and include patterns here.

Make gift bags for all occasions using good watercolor paper. Paper bags from your own paintings look really clever and make a hit any time of year.

Also cut portions of your watercolor paintings to use for homemade cards. Very memorable.

Source

More Mixed Media Book

Mixed Media

California Coast Painting in watercolor.
California Coast Painting in watercolor. | Source
California Coast painting with oil paint antiquing wash over it.
California Coast painting with oil paint antiquing wash over it. | Source
Row Boat painting in watercolor.
Row Boat painting in watercolor. | Source
Row Boat painting with oil antiquing wash over it.
Row Boat painting with oil antiquing wash over it. | Source
Watercolor Tomatoes on Window painting with oil paint antiquing wash over it.
Watercolor Tomatoes on Window painting with oil paint antiquing wash over it. | Source

Another Mixed Media approach

Create a mixed media project using oil paints and acrylic medium. This is a fun project for the artist who has never mixed these different mediums. Take a watercolor painting and cover it lightly with acrylic matte medium. Do not press hard or stir the medium on the watercolor much as you can pull up the paint below without meaning to. When the medium is dry it can now be covered with a thin oil antiquing. Use burnt umber and Liquin medium. The Liquin will cause the oil paint to dry quickly. Paint the thin layer all over the painting and allow it to almost dry. After about 10 to 15 minutes use a paper towel to lift some of the paint back up to give an antiqued effect. You can add another layer after this one dries completely, to give a darker perimeter or darken areas you aren’t happiest with. I makes a very interesting painting effect and spruces up an otherwise dull painting.

Source

Fixed up Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      EdTecher,

      How super kind of you. I really appreciate patrons of the arts... where would we be without them. I'm glad you think my tips are worthy to be passed on to your loved ones.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 3 years ago from USA

      I love your work. The Tiffany Portrait particularly spoke to me. I'm not an artist myself, but my mother and daughter both are, and I'm passing your tips on to them. Really great work!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Yes, bradmasterOCcal, it's about light. As you know, there are all the colors of the spectrum in light. If the lights are on (daylight) you should be able to see all the colors, even if you only "perceive" the apple is red, it still has blues and purples in the shadows as well as flecks of green and yellow. All the colors are there. Notice too that brown and black are absent in the rainbow... because brown is a mixture of all the colors and black is the total absence of light. So neither of those should be present in your clouds.

      Glad to be of help.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 3 years ago from Orange County California

      PaintDrips

      I had no ideal it was that many colors.

      I guess I can practice on paper first.

      Thanks so much.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      bradmasterOCcal,

      Yes, actually the trick is to paint them like they are solid and not vaporous as we mentally know them to be. You want to use color (grey, blue, peach, tan and yellow) as well as white to give it dimension and form. Decide which direction the light is coming from and have only that side white. The rest needs to have degrees of value from light to dark. The best bet is to get a photo reference to use for inspiration. Look through the internet of check out a cloudy day and take a photo that you really like. Then plan the colors ahead of time. When working on a ceiling you have to have the colors premixed to be able to work fast and soft over your head. Oh and go ahead and use your sponge but use it in layers. You may need to go over the sponged areas while they are still wet with a dry 4-inch brush to soften any edges. Clouds don't look right with hard edges.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 3 years ago from Orange County California

      Hi PaintDrips

      I painted my ceiling with an odd shaped sponge to try an make clouds. No one likes them.

      Do you know the secret to making clouds?

      Thanks

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Aww, Flourish Anyway, you make me blush. Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Beautiful work and helpful for talented artists like yourself. Gosh I wish I had that level of talent. Nicely done.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Thank you LadyFiddler and heidithorne. I appreciate your visit and your vote.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Okay, now I really want to make this whole painting thing a thing to do in this New Year. Just beautiful. Voted up, useful, awesome and beautiful!

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      Very exquisite your paintings are lovely and fascinating , i enjoyed the hub and the paintings very much. You deserve an award, the flowers looked so beautiful.

      Keep up the good work.

      Sharing, voted up, awesome, beautiful, useful and interesting :)

      Thank U for sharing this with us!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Marcy, thanks so much for the vote. I hope I can be of help when you delve into watercolors. They aren't as threatening as people make them out to be.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

      Denise (PaintDrips) - you are such a talented artist! I have long wanted to try watercolors, but know so little about the techniques. So your information about how to fix mistakes is very helpful (I am sure I will need it!).

      Voted up & up, and shared!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Thank you. I really appreciate your confidence in me.

    • profile image

      missirupp 3 years ago

      Well, I'm off to buy a journal. I need to make notes like we talked about with the cartoons. Your paintings are magnificent. My sister just started painting with acrylics and she is surprising herself (and me) with her talents. I'll forward any hubs to her of yours that might be helpful.

    working

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