Overwhelmed by Green Sketch

I took a few vacation days from work and today decided to get in a quick watercolor sketch. For just about an hour, I stopped at Swallow Cliff Woods North, part of Chicago’s Cook County Forest Preseve  Zone #7.

Swallow Cliff Sketch 1

OK, I’m only human. I did not like this first sketch. It’s nice and perfectly “OK” but not what I was going for. It looked very labored and overworked. One mistake I did was to start sketching at 11:45 am. Think about the position of the sun. It was almost directly overhead. When that happens, true color seems to get lost. Saturation is messed up and all color looks the same. Everything was green.

Swallow Cliff Sketch 2

About 5 years ago I would have been discouraged, threw my sketch away and decide that I wasn’t going to paint for about a month. How ridiculous! See how lies control our behavior? Today, I calmly took a deep breath and decided to start all over again. In every section I asked myself, “What didn’t you like about the original one?” and then I painted the second sketch slightly different. Sometimes being a mature artist is hard work. It’s much easier to toss it out the window and feel sorry for yourself…but then you’ll never grow.

Sketch #2 does not look overworked but loose and free.

I know I was probably too hard on myself, but when you have a certain idea in your head and nothing like it comes out on paper, you just shake your head.

At this scene it was a warm 75°F. White wispy clouds were creeping in but the sun was beating down. Several barn swallows played all around me. Two in particular chased each other and landed right next to my car. Other swallows skimmed the grass at a high speed, searching for insects to eat. None of them made any sounds whatsoever. My eyes followed them for a long time!

Don’t give up when you don’t like the way your art turns out; #1 someone will always like it and #2 it’s a building block to grow from.


  1. Congratulations on being able to sit back, take a deep breath and take it all in again with a different state of mind. That ain’t easy! It is totally reflected in your two sketches. There is no doubt sketch #2 conveys the scene and mood. Less was so much better in this sketch! 🙂

  2. Hey, it seems as if your entire mood change from sketch to sketch, even though it is the same scene. I love the airy feeling on the second one. And good work on not giving up 🙂

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