revisit your artwork

Why Should You Revisit Your Artwork?

For 2D Artists

We all know how much fun it can be to spend as much of our available time as possible painting. But every now and then it’s good to spend some time to give what you have done a good hard look. It’s important to revisit your artwork, to step back and assess your development and strengths as a painter. When you revisit your artwork you can see the progress you have made. It helps you to decide what your future goals and aspirations are; if you don’t know what these are, how do you know what you’re working towards?

Set aside a few hours (at least two) revisit your artwork. Sort it into three piles:

  • Paintings you regard as finished and successful.
  • Paintings you don’t think work at all.
  • Paintings in which something works, but not the whole thing, and those in which you learned something rather than produced a great result

Paintings You Regard as Finished:

Take a look through your successful paintings. What is it that distinguishes them as your paintings — have you got or are you developing a distinctive style? This could be in the way you lay down the paint, particular colours that you like using, exploring the possibilities of particular theme (favourite objects)? Think about how you are going to develop this style and, as a further creative challenge, deliberately try painting something in a different style.

Paintings That Don’t Work:

Now take a look at your unsuccessful paintings with a view to recycling the supports. If you’ve painted on canvas or board, you can paint over what’s there and start again — and remember that you can use any colour, it doesn’t have to be white.

If you’ve painted on paper, consider using the back of the sheet. If you’ve worked in watercolour you can see how much of the painting you can ‘wash’ off — soak the sheet for a while and then ‘scrub’ off the painting with a brush (be careful not to work too harshly as you don’t want to rub off any of the paper itself). Some watercolour pigments have excellent staining properties and won’t come off completely, but don’t discard these sheets of paper, rather use it as the basis for a painting.

Another option is to radically rework a painting, for example painting out large areas or turning it upside down and creating something new on top and out of what’s already there, or to cut up the sheet for collage.

Paintings in Which Part Works:

It’s very tempting to keep every single painting in which something works, even though the overall painting doesn’t. But storage can become an issue and, to be honest, how often do you look through them? If you’re working on paper, consider cutting out those bits that do work and putting them into a file so you can easily look at them. Consider writing notes about what you did to get that result, such as what colours you used.

If you’ve a digital camera, another option would be to take a photograph of the bits that work and create yourself an album on your computer.

Keep a Record of Your Artistic Goals and Achievements:

Remember to create some sort of notes from this process, so you’ve got something to refer to next time you do it. Think of it as minutes from a meeting, albeit a one-person meeting. Be objective, be accurate, and then file it away until next time.

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