Nevertheless, I persisted. And I hung on to each and every "failed" painting, figuring that I could always paint on the back, or if nothing else, retain a record of all of my ugly duckling efforts. As the years turned to decades, I found myself sifting through those "failed" piles of art and seeing parts worth saving and developing. With newly attained confidence and skills, I was able to transform some of them into finished works. Often the underpainting would be barely visible, especially as I began using collage and acrylics, which help to obscure what lies beneath the surface.
Fast forward to the present day. I've hit the 26-year mark as a dedicated painter, and I feel I'm at the peak of my powers. That doesn't mean I don't still have "failed" paintings, but I'm getting better about figuring out which ones are worth reworking. I am doing fewer "pure" watercolor paintings than before, and prefer concentrating on acrylic marbling and collage as my mediums of choice. But every once in a while, an exhibit opportunity comes along whose rules state that all paintings must be done in watercolor only, and I try to rise to the occasion.
Such is the case of a recently reworked watercolor I call "Home At Last". I only have 3 photos of this painting as it progressed over the years, because I didn't think to take step by step photos of each change. But you can see from my images, that this painting went from being a homeless man under a bridge, to a landscape depicting several houses on a hill. You can even see the crease in the paper where I'd folded it years before! I'd also wiped out/lifted most of the dark washes of watercolor from the paper using a wet sponge. It was only this year that I finally figured out how to add washes of color and connect the dark values in this painting. It's a small, odd sized piece: only 10 x 12" with a 18 x 20" frame. But I am very pleased that I was finally able to finish it. It was juried into the Watercolor Society of Oregon's Fall Show and will part of an 80-painting group exhibit at the Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon during the month of October.