Skip navigation

Have you ever had a painting you disliked so much that it was destined for the trash?  Well, this one almost made it there.

I was so excited at this stage. I had a fantastic piece of masa paper that I had toned and glued down complete with all those fantastic wrinkles. I had a photo reference of the base of the driveway where I painted last summer and a good start on laying in the broken color of the woods surrounding the driveway.

UGH!!! The yellow was absolutely sickening to me. There was yellow and a lot of it in the reference and it took me “HOURS” to get to this point. Everything was too much the same value and I had painted those shadows on the drive three times, already. Nothing seemed to be going “my way” with this. I let it rest for a couple days and kept staring at the reference I had.  I began to see more things in the reference like shadows and flickers of darks to the left. I saw some branches and some more broken tree trunks. Even though I did not see much orange on the left a little voice inside me said, “put some orange on the left to balance this painting”. My mind kept saying “NO. You are going to muddy it”.  At some point, I decided it was going in the trash as is, anyway, so why not risk the mud. Why not risk going for it and see what I come up with?

Well, here is the painting once I risked the mud and painted what I had seen from my above thoughts. See how utterly blinded by our own thoughts we become, at times?  I don’t think I have ever pushed myself this far with broken color so I have learned something with this painting. I sat it back up for a day and stared at it from time to time. I wanted more value change. I still wasn’t getting the darkness of the blacktop and the flickering of the sunlight thru the trees as much as I wanted.

   finished painting

To finish, I deepened all the shadows, found some more leafy shapes that were dark and pulled out the feeling of standing at the base of the drive at about “coming home” time on a fall evening.

In looking back, I am glad that I did not quit on this one.  It is still teaching me things. When I walk up to it and look at it close, I can’t tell what everything is. It looks like blobs of color across the paper.  The tree trunks and the road are the only defined elements. The furthur I step back from it, the more clarity the scene has. What fun!

Don’t give up. Have a great weekend!


  1. I’m glad you didn’t quit either. Oftentimes, it’s the difficult situations that teaches us the great lessons in life. This is gorgeous Leslie. 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree more, Emily. Everything has its place and we often don’t understand the reasons until much later. I don’t think I will actually know the extent of all this splish splashing I did, here, until I do more of them. Thank you! Thinking of you and your upcoming surgery.

  2. It is so very self motivating when you give back life to your disowned work.. I am so glad you decided to revamp and look, where it has lead you to! Absolutely marvelous Leslie!

    • Thank you, Padmaja. I am still searching for the magic that appeared in your Banyan Tree painting. 🙂

  3. “I can’t tell what everything is.” This reminds me of a print I brought back from Europe as a young girl. It’s a sketch by Eugene Delacroix. A man sits resting his bearded chin on his left hand. Up close, it is impossible to see what line is part of the hand, chin or beard. It is a scramble of lines. Standing back, it is perfectly clear.

    I’ve cherished it because it is symbolic of my relationship with men! Oh, my brother would love to catch me saying that!

    • I am glad you didn’t give up…for so many reasons. However, one does have to know when a puddle is a puddle! I have several written drafts that will hopefully dry up and blow away on their own accord.

    • Oh Delacroix was so GOOD! There is magic in those lines! Chuckling, especially after your dishwashing story of days gone by!
      I understand what you mean about puddles, too! Thank you, Amy!

  4. this was clearly worth the frustration, such a lovely image… i had a similar frustration with yellows when pointillizing (with ink) just this past week. almost gave up but i kept on. and was glad for it in the long run. have a great weekend leslie!

    • Wow! Thank you for mentioning that you do pointillism and I just foraged through your blogroll and found your art site! I had no idea! I am going to have to takes a new stroll JRuth! 🙂
      Yep. Those yellows get me everytime. Thank you!

  5. I’m glad you didn’t give up on this one because it’s GORGEOUS. I love all of the textures and colors. Have a great weekend, Leslie!

    • Thank you, Bree! I am enjoying the texture that the masa paper affords a watercolor, bigtime!

  6. Deepening the shadows as the last touch-up seems to have brought out all the minute detail of this piece. Excellent work! Blessings to you, Leslie…

  7. I am so glad you did not give this painting up to the trash can. First of all I think it looked great when you thought it trash worthy!
    But since you decided to work on it more you gave it even more life and definition.
    I enlarged your painting and stepped back from my computer to have a look at it, and the I could see even more details. It is beautiful Leslie! 🙂

    • Thank you for taking the time to do that, Debbie. The enlargement does bring forward that feeling of confusing abstract applications of paint. That is how it looks up close. The furthur you back up from the computer screen, the more it comes into definition, just like it does here at home.
      Thank you for this comment! 🙂

  8. You make painting seems so simple 🙂 Love this one a lot, especially the color and those folds or creases makes it look almost vintage.

    • Thanks, Alonso. Believe me, this one was totally a struggle until the end. I want to do another this way, though. 🙂

  9. appreciate the sensitivity of lights of your eyes 🙂 tons and tons of colors there~!
    what a beautiful day

  10. Have you noticed my hairline? That’s from pulling it out from frustration when things just aren’t going as planned on a painting. So, I’ve been there and done that, but this turned out wonderful. Like the others, the texture and color mix gives it an impressionist look. I like it, I like it a lot!

    • Ahhh! You know the feeling well, then, Ryan. You posted your woods scene about the time I was yucking over the yellow.
      I was amazed that we had chosen the musician portraits and now the woodsy scene at about the same time. That was one of the factors that propelled me forward on this painting. Thank you for this wonderful comment. I have longed to understand impressionism enough to want to touch on it in some of my work. This masa paper helps me come closer to fullfilling that desire. I think I have found a friend in that paper, if that is possible. 🙂

  11. Wow, travelling along on the journey really makes this painting even more wonderful, Leslie! It has so much texture and life!!! Love it!!

    • I thought of you and your brave use of color, Beth. I like bright color, too, but, something about the yellow got to me. I think it worked out in the longrun and thank you for your comment about my posting the journey and for liking the painting! 🙂

  12. It’s a lovely painting Leslie, beautiful autumn colours with great texture. I could relate to so many of your words when I read this post, but I seldom manage to save a painting. ‘Muddy’ is my middle name, and it’s this overriding fear which prevents me from exploring colour in my own work. Perhaps ‘fear’ is the wrong adjective, more ‘phobia’. I often begin with my mind set on experimenting, but the old quicksand gets me every time. However, your work and eye for colour motivates me and forces me to push further. Some of the work I believe to be my best has come through talking to you.

    • I think you do an awesome job with your paintings, Keith. I know you use a different paper than I do and it does not take the color in the same way as the papers I use. I do have these feelings, too, especially when I have been working on something for a few days and can’t figure out how to rescue it. It helps me to know that some of what I do inspires you to push furthur with your work. I think that is one of the highest compliments someone can give another and I thank you for that! 🙂

  13. I think you already know that i hold your abilities as an artist in very high regard.
    So refreshing to see the expert is still on the road.
    It’s brilliant, you truly turned this painting round

    • I like that, “still on the road”, in relationship to this post, Richard. Thank you! 🙂

  14. Well that sure was lucky you never gave up on it, as the finished painting is pretty amazing, and definitely screams autumnal… I’d definitely have given up long before you, in fact, I’d have given up at the masa paper stage.. lol.. It’s testing enough on normal paper for me.. 😉

    • The masa paper stage isn’t too bad. Just takes some time. Thank you, though, Brian. I, at times, have to go furthur than I expect to rescue my dabbling. 🙂

  15. Leslie, I very frequently have paintings that Grate on me , that make me uncomfortable. I am glad yout stuck with it. You may still be tweaking this one for a while but it is a beautiful represention of the glow and sparkle of an Indiana Autumn. (And God bless the inventory of MASA!)

    • Yes. The masa adventures are really a bright spot in art, for me, right now. I think I can safely say that not a one of my paintings has ever turned out looking like what I envisioned when I started it. I think we spend our lives searching for that. I am often surprised by the outcomes and sometimes in awe of the medium, the water and the paper as I give them credit, also, for the outcome! Thanks, Linda!

  16. It is a wonderful landscape! Its colors, lights and shadows make me think of Isaac Levitan’s landscapes.

    I have to admit that it was comforting to me to read about your struggles and indecision. I know I am not the only artist tortured with indecision, still a real account of your thoughts is helpful. I am struggling with something similar right now: should I allow my portrait to go “muddy” but stay true to value range, or should I preserve transparency at all costs… At this time I think I will make friends with mud – mud is realism, life is full of it, so it should be allowed into my painting. Just think Wyeth…

  17. What tenacity–I’m glad you stuck with it and have kept learning from that painting. That’s really powerful. I’m not an artist in the sense that you are but I can see how “going through the process” can teach us so much. I enjoyed witnessing your process–thanks for sharing.

    I really like the end result–or maybe they’ll be something else you add as you see fit…

    • Oh yes you are an artist, in my book. 🙂 I have always thought the writer has the whole in their soul because they have to have a vision and pass that vision on to their viewer by communicating with words. I really like what you said about the process and relating it to the idea that I may want to add more, like it is all about growth and vision and journey. Thank you, Bodhirose!

  18. Oh my Leslie, I’m so glad this did not end up in the trash. This is spectacular. It’s so layered with colors and shapes. There is so much to look at and of course it has that distinct “Leslie White” style. The masa paper just adds to your layers of interest.

    I’m glad that you added the darks at the end. It really made the whole painting sparkly.

    Another beauty. I really love this one. From almost trash to treasure! 🙂

    • You are so supportive of my endeavors, Carol. You point out something I did not notice as you have always been able to see a style to my work. I am wondering if my speckly trees with the abstract-like little marks I make have found a life on this masa paper. It may be why I am liking it so much. So, thank you for that. You have helped me to open my eyes to furthur possibilities.
      This particular painting caused me no end of struggle, however. thanks a bunch! 🙂

  19. I am sooo glad you didn’t throw this out but continued to work on it, and take risks. It came out so beautiful!! All the color and texture, shadow and light, come together here so perfectly. I really do think this is a wonderful piece.

    • Ha! I truly felt as though I painted myself into a corner on this one, Amber! As I continued on, I began to look at my applications as a “rescue” measure. I am not sure if that is what I was doing. Maybe I just learned that this one required some perseverence and that i don’t need to be so hasty in my judgements about what to “save or dump”. Thank you for this comment!

  20. This turned out to be a lovely painting, Leslie. I’m glad you didn’t consign it to the circular file. I know we have all been there and done that. Sometimes giving a piece a bit of rest is what we need to do in order to see the possiblities again. It is so hard to see where to go next when we are in the throes of “I don’t like where this is” and to not give up. But if we do pursue past our comfort zone, we can end up at a new place we didn’t know was there.
    For me, it was a big step to actually realize it was okay to use the cirular file. From there, I finally could give myself permission to “ruin” what I had done and experiment more.

    • What wonderful truths you speak of, here, Ruth. 🙂 Isn’t it funny that, once we leap past that first barricade we give ourselves permission to find another? I have begun to believe that nothing is really finished, but only where we chose to stop. Thank you!

  21. Yes! How right you were to go back! Love the deep shadows – and you’re right – the further back you are away from the painting the clearer it seems! Magical 🙂

    • Thank you for that comment abut the deep shadows. That is exactly what I felt I had to go for. You have such a good perception of art. It is no wonder I hungrily eat up your posts about other artists, Lynda. Thank you!

  22. The colors are stunning! Magical, indeed 🙂

  23. Absolutely beautiful painting! I really love your work 🙂

    Have a great week!

  24. I’m so glad you persevered Leslie, for some reason this painting means something to me. I think it’s the road, or a path leading somewhere else, you can’t see where but inside you ‘feel’ it’s important. If I can make a comparison, when I have an idea for a poem or a short story, sometimes it fights me, it wants to go a certain way and I feel it’s wrong, so I leave it for a while and then have another try. Change a bit here and add a bit there and suddenly it’s working and the ‘barrier’ has given way. The end result is always worth the effort. As with your painting, a small piece of yourself has gone into making something beautiful. xPenx

    • That’s so neat that you speak of the road that you don’t know where it is going. That is like your poetry and my painting. We often end up someplace else! Thank you, Pen!
      Hugs for you and Bess!

  25. Oh, I have SO been there! As a collage artist I have many pieces that have layers and layers as I struggled to create a piece with which I could be satisfied. Kudos to you for staying with this because the end result is lovely. I love the detail of the finished piece and feel that you got the driveway and shadows perfectly in the end. Way to go!

    • I just finished a collage piece that I thought I’d go crosseyed working on. Gotta give it to you, there, for that! 🙂 Thank you for the positive on the shadows and the driveway. That is where my headache was the worst. Ha!

  26. I’m glad you didn’t put this in the waste bin, Leslie, because it’s the most gorgeous painting you’ve done to date, in my opinion. I particularly love the left side of it. Lovely! If I could press the like button more than once, I would!

    • WOW! Thank you, Val! The road and the left side was where I had all my struggles. Just goes to show me I may need to work on some of these paintings longer.

  27. I don’t how you manage to have so many colors, and keep them all so brilliant ! Your painting is really three dimensional and beautiful !! (Where do you get the masa paper ??)

    • I’ll tell you that having so many colors, this painting, was a bit nerve wracking to be sure. I feared going too far, but too little wasn’t enough for me this time around. I am having a wonderful time with the masa paper, Isabelle. There are numerous places to purchase it from. My art store, here, (not known for carrying a wide variety) carries it all the time. It comes in large sheets and I have to ask for it by name. It is stored in a large paper file as it comes in large sheets. I have also purchased some from Dick Blick online and Cheap Joes. They both carry it. And guess what? As paper goes, it is not that expensive. 🙂 I am getting in the habit of toning many sheets of it in advance and having a selection of colored and wrinkled masa to work from, much like I treat the citrasolv papers in advance so I have many to choose from. Saves time in the long run. Hope that helps!
      Thank you for your comments, Isabelle! 🙂

  28. Hi Leslie. Oh what woods you’ve painted. Glad you didn’t trash it before playing mud painter. Looking different from close and afar is very cool. Reminds me of the works of some famous folks…..

  29. It’s beautiful! Perhaps a less-skilled artist/painter would have made a mess of it but it turned out great under your very able hands. 🙂

    BTW, I’m now starting to realize that I’m really learning 2 lessons here everytime I visit: painting and life lessons. The value of perseverance is worth remembering when things, at first or on the surface, aren’t going to plan. They invariably do, eventually. Unless one gives up. Thanks Leslie!

    • Thank you, Earthianne! Another huge reason to keep going! Congratulations on one year of blogging!

  30. Oh my, what an incredible painting! I know that sentiment–almost throwing a painting away, and then somehow rescuing it! I sold one last Fall for pretty good money that almost wound up in the dumpster. But I still think that was a rather mediocre painting, whereas this is mouth-watering.

    This is the kind of landscape that I want to do in watercolor. I’m always afraid of the raw landscape, choosing instead to put architecture in it or signage, or vehicles, or something to draw the viewer to, so they won’t look at my damned trees!

    Outstanding composition!

    • I love it that you spoke of selling one of your paintings that you were going to throw away. That has happened with me too! Several times. What I deem ugly, resonates with some people.
      That said, I have stared at this painting over and over to try and figure out what I did. I am beginning to think that I spend too much time worrying about mud and don’t push myself hard enough to paint past that mental block. Don Andrews taught me last summer in a workshop how to layer over mud by choosing whatever temperature color you used last, before the passage you painted turned to mud and that you can rescue your passage. It works. The paint still has to be wet so I have to work fast when I do it. I have practiced this on scrap paper a lot. I’ll layer till I create mud. If the last color was warm I’ll choose another warm color and presto! no mud anymore! I thought that was earth shattering. 🙂
      Remember that painting you did of the hunt where you poured? Imagine that without the horses and hounds. You can do it without architecture, I believe. Sometimes I wonder if the focus has to shift to the patterns of light when a scene is devoid of an object. I don’t know, but that may be one way to look at it. Thankyou for your comment, David!

  31. It strikes me looking at this and reading your narrative that there are many things that painting and poetry have in common, not the least is to know when you are and when you are not done, recognizing the difference between raw and refined. I guess when we are not happy with it, we just have to keep working with it and not give up.

    • I love it that you said this, Jamie. It opens yet another door that what you and I do is also a reflection of what we do as we live our lives, constantly “recognizing the difference between the raw and refined”. Thank you! 🙂

  32. I’m so glad you didn’t trash this one too. It is rich and deep. I love the shadows. Those deep blue/purple shadows are my favorite. Nice–an opportunity to beautifully salvage a painting and deepen oneself. 🙂

  33. dear leslie,

    it is a triumph here, i really love the perspective when the eye is led by the road. i love the leaves and the colours, i wish i was there sitting under those trees. magnificent!!

    • This one really tested my patience, Marvin, so it is good to see your comment, here. It is beautiful, year round, looking from the road up this driveway. Thank you!

  34. i love the way sunlight streams through the woods here. so realistic and beautiful!

    • Thank you,”Y”. That is exactly what I worked so hard to try and capture. As the days get shorter and the leaves fall from the trees, that afternoon light becomes so bright, picking its’way through the trunks and remaining leaves.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Indiana: Creek and Bridge « Leslie White on 30 May 2011 at 12:25 pm

    […] watercolor was painted on masa paper.  I had a little easier go of this one. It is very similar to Coming Home, a painting I struggled with last month.  This is taken from a photo that I had stashed away for […]

  2. By Indiana:Flowering Pear « Leslie White on 25 Jul 2011 at 12:58 pm

    […] air painted last summer. You can see them as you come up the long driveway I featured in this post here titled “Coming […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: