Buttermilk Falls: #3

I hate this painting. No… I loathe this painting. This painting actually made me mad at it when I was finished last night, because I knew it was ruined as soon as I laid down the first wash in the sky. I kept going likes dummy, hoping it would somehow fix itself.

It didn’t.

I painted so many itty bitty details on this one, and every one of them is just pig lipstick. Effing…

I’ll show you what I mean.

First, I spent forever drawing this out because I wanted people to read this and see how I planned the composition with the time of this and blah blah blah I’m not as smurt as I think I am.

Then I took forever applying masking fluid. I even spent an hour or so with a file, sharpening a tiny piece of metal so I could use it as a stylus to apply super thin lines of masking fluid, and then use the same piece of metal to cap off my fine liner. It worked as a cap – but I’m growing to hate masking fluid.

I keep thinking I can use it correctly this time. Then, I apply it in all the wrong places, and add a billion crisp edges that I need to fix when I’m halfway through the painting because afterI remove the fluid, I don’t want the lines there anymore.

Anyway… this was about three hours of work, and at this point I was still pretending like it was gonna be awesome.

Then this happened:

Seriously, WTF. What was I thinking with that sky?! It’s a disaster! Too dark, super mottled, and ferociously ugly. The yellow ochre at the horizon is a useless mud stain for absolutely no reason. As soon as I painted that yellow ochre, I knew the painting was trash. So, what did I do? I kept painting it, because I’m a MORON.

You know what will make that abomination of a sky look better? FLOOD IT with the most saturated, staining, deep valued motley crew of blues I can mix on my palette.

Ok, enough about the sky. When that was thoroughly destroyed, I proceeded to paint the waterfall. Now keep in mind, this whole illustration is going to rely on a myriad of straight clean lines to render the image I’m trying to shake out of my brain onto STUPID EXPENSIVE PAPER. (Oh! GREAT! I just remembered how expensive the paper is that I used to wipe my ass for twelve hours! Yippee!)

As I was saying, this illustration is supposed to be composed of nice clean lines. So what did I do to paint the waterfall? Ragged dry brush strokes. Huh?! Seriously, was I having a stroke while I painted this thing?

Ok – the heron. Or is it a stork now? What the hell is a stork anyway? The heron started nice, clean, careful lines, and then I slipped and hit my head on something I guess because I just started painting ragged slaps of pigment for the legs. It’s like a schizophrenic painted this stupid thing.

Then I added some of the clean crisp strokes I envisioned originally into the water, and it actually looked good. Which turned out to be a terrible misfortune. Because the water ended up not looking like a dismembered body in a bag of phlegm, I figured I could reassure the rest of the painting if I just took my time.

So I did. I took my time. I grabbed the smallest brush I own, and loaded both stupid hairs with stupid pigment and painted a billion stupid lines.

All those stupid lines made the stork/heron/pickle salesman look moderately acceptable, so I put my head down and spent two hours painting lines in the waterfall.

At this point, I wanted to burn the damn thing, but I had already committed something like ten hours to the painting over three days, so I figured, what the hell, keep going.

Then I used that stupid little brush to paint stupid little lines on those stupid little trees. I even painted an avalanche of bricks for reason on – what is that now, a wall? And once the lines for the stupid bricks were painted, I couldn’t just leave them like that, could I? Oh… NO…. NoOOooOooo! I had to fill in every brick, individually, why? Because shut up, that’s why.

Then, I painted a bunch of rocks under the overhang that make the waterfalls, because – that makes sense. That’s totally how waterfalls work.


This stupid thing took me four stupid days to finish (in between working full time, being captain homeschool, and completing what I could on the Honey-Do list). Once it was finished, I tore it off the gator board, and hid it thinking, “maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe I’ll come back to look at it later, and I’ll like it.”

It isn’t that much later yet, but I think the only way “later” is gonna make me appreciate this is if “later” I get dimentia, and forget what good paintings look like.

In short, I spent a really long time making something I hate. And now I know how God felt right before he flooded the dearth to kill every man woman and child on Earth.

And no… I don’t believe the flood was real.

4 responses to “Buttermilk Falls: #3”

  1. Hey, I just stumbled across your blog through your farm road reddit post. First of all, I love reading about the farm road evolution and what you learned and did differently! I’m learning watercolor and am inspired by this — it’s really interesting to see all the techniques and how you progressed.

    Secondly, I’ve definitely labored over something that I ended up disliking the process and end result of. But I really think we’re our own worst critic, and most other people don’t see all the “mistakes” or “questionable decisions” you’ve made in your art. I absolutely love this buttermilk falls painting. It does look like you put hours of time into it, and that’s what makes it so impressive! All the layers are beautiful, and I love the vibrant sky, tiny details, specific strokes, colors, etc. Without reading the post at first, it looked like you knew exactly what you were doing and how to make a painting pop, and excelled at details. I felt sad reading your post because of how you were talking to yourself. I hope you can come back to this piece now and recognize all the great parts of it, and give yourself credit for having the patience, motivation, perseverance, and creativity to continue with it and turn it into something you should be proud of! 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I am often way too hard on myself, I don’t know if it’s a coping mechanism, or if I just want everyone to know that I am not deluded into thinking I’m better then I am. Either way, I have experienced a lot of encouragement from strangers like you, and I appreciate it more then you know. I have tried to be more transparent when I am proud of things, so I’m not always just knocking my work, and that is a direct response to the encouragement people like you have given me. Thank you!

  2. This feels “Art Deco” to me. The overly exaggerated details, especially in the waterfall. I quite like it. From reading your blog, art deco is *not* your style; I can see why you hate it. You prefer a much looser, watery style of watercolor painting.

    Hate it all you want (it’s your painting after all). I think you should also feel a bit smug that you stumbled onto a style that’s was very popular once, and still commands big money to fans of that era. I wonder what would happen if you scanned it, and sold prints tagged “art deco style” on Etsy.

    Think less “I wonder” and more “I double dog dare you to try.”

    • Thanks for the compliment. I don’t have an Etsy account, or a scanner, so I don’t think I’ll be making prints any time soon. But I appreciate your kind words!

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