So… my second year of watercolor is over. As an attempt to measure my progress, I decided a while ago that I would paint the Farm Road painting each year. Last year, the results were pretty remarkable. When I compared last year’s painting to the painting I made when I first started, I saw a whole bunch of progress. This year’s painting is a much more subtle change, maybe even a bit backward.

Here is the photo of the farm road:

Now, this isn’t a particularly fabulous photo, but it’s the picture I tried to paint every day for a month when I first started.

Here is the first rendition I ever painted:

At least I haven’t gone backwards so much that I’m that bad any more. I guess that’s a good thing.

And here’s the painting I made at the end of my first year:

Now, there are many things that I think I did correctly with this painting, and it is certainly much better than my first attempt in 2018. This version is much better as a composition, but in many ways I don’t think it’s “mine.” I basically tailored a Joseph Zbukvic tutorial, and applied his techniques to this subject. I did make some dramatic improvements in the composition, but the painting doesn’t feel like it’s my own. It also doesn’t feel like it’s correctly lit. You can see the sun in the sky, so you know it should be morning or evening, but the light in the painting feels like it’s noon.

It’s also hard to tell if the painting from 2018 is an improvement because my techniques improved, or if it’s an improvement because it’s a completely different composition.

This year, I decided to honor the original composition more Thani did last year, and placed an emphasis on the lighting. I wanted the lighting to be accurate to the time of day. That meant, less saturated colors, less value contrast, and fewer bright highlights.

I’m not all that happy with the results, but this feels like it’s my own because it isn’t just repurposing a tutorial of someone else’s techniques. Perhaps this isn’t as “good” as the painting from a year ago, but it’s more honest, and I think it’s a better reflection of the source material. Anyway, I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s the painting of the farm road from the end of Year Two: