How to overthink and overwork a painting in 11 easy steps

The first draft /underpainting and the photo that inspired it

July 2004 at Clingman's Dome, N.C.
Photo taken by Rev. Jamie Sanders

I'm painting in acrylics on prestretched canvas

Andrea de Michaelis 2004

Here's the first revision

Then I decided to change the color

I don't know why I decided to change it from red to green, but let me botch the border while I'm at it.  The border will be way muted at the end but this is what it goes through to get there.

Ah, this outfit is better but the star is overworked.  The model for the star pendant was a beautiful crystal suncatcher I snitched from Rev. Jamie Sanders.  Well, okay I asked him to trade my fave silver and blue flash moonstone ring for it. 

Hmmm, I tried a little fire action and decided trashing the border was in order.  At this point I pretty much knew it was over.

Ok, let's lose the border and try something sunsetty instead.  Yes, this is becoming a blobby mess.  Good thing it's acrylic and not watercolor.

Let's make it a sunrise, no let's gesso over it and begin again

As long as I'm gonna gesso over it, lemme play with some pretty colors first

Hmmm, this is fun but is it worth salvaging?

A bunch of blue over the green and lavendar, let's make this an evening scene maybe.

I ended up gessoing over the entire canvas, so it now sits white and blank.

I was glad I took pics of this at each stage.  It reminds my eye what color combos I like best.  It also is a great reminder that the more I work on something -- the farther I get from the original impression -- the bigger a mess I can make of it.

Jamie and I were driving through the Smokey Mountains after a reteat in May 2004 and I saw snowflakes as we climbed, so I jumped out of the car to play in it.