Have you ever started a watercolor or sketch and thought it’s almost right, I just need to do this, only to ruin it? I have so many times, but I have found a way of saving analog pieces of art. I’ve made it a practice, at certain stages in a watercolor, sketch, or other project to take pictures. This way, if the painting goes south, I have a good version of it.
This is only one way of saving it. Another is a white pastel pencil. Many times when the watercolor or sketch is finished, I need to lighten a corner, or a line that’s too dark. These pencils help to rescue paintings that would otherwise not look their best.
For finer lines, I use a white gel pen, such as a jelly roll. These are great ways to lessen the intensity of an area, such as under an eye. It can also help to add detail lines such as a cat’s whiskers, or emphasize a light post.
Other times a regular or mechanical pencil can fix an area where a light color bled over slightly. Recently I had a face in a car where the color of his skin spread beyond where it should have. A little pencil and the building behind him hid the mistake.
Some watercolorists are not fans of mixed media, or touch ups and that’s okay, but I’ve found they help me. I also like to use white gouache on a finished snow scene to add falling snow. Im not against using a second color on a tonal sketch or painting to add a little extra.
Another way to save an analog piece, is to turn it into a digital one. For example I had a sketch of a face that almost worked. Instead of discarding it, I imported it, and used it as a starting point to paint a new digital painting. Up front I stated it was digital so there was no confusion.
All of these are methods to produce a finished piece, just as a designer or painter begins with a sketch before completing the larger work. They are tools to help with the production of art. They also do something else for me personally.
I enjoy making art, but I don’t like to waste time. Though i have to give up on some pieces and start over, I enjoy being able to salvage a piece. It’s not that I don’t learn something when a piece doesn’t work because I do. It’s that I enjoy being able not only to salvage it, but to see it through to completion.
While it’s just paper and ink or pigment, I enjoy knowing that I finished what I started. I also love the fact that it isn’t going to be discarded because of a mistake. My mind can’t help but be thankful God has never discarded us because of our mistakes.
The difference is of course far greater. As one of our best friends Brittany Potter wrote He makes masterpieces out of us in spite of our sins. When I look at my own failures I’m so thankful that He didn’t cover up a mistake like I do in art. Instead He made us new without throwing anything away. In art I can appreciate God’s love more, because He doesn’t grow impatient with us. He reworks us til we are reflections of His love, the perfect image.
In that sense art is like life. Take time to capture the moments, even in a photo. Fix what you can, whether with a white pastel or a jelly roll. D on’t be too hard on yourself for that brush stroke you think just ruined everything. Saving analog is not only possible, it’s transformed many a work of art into a masterpiece.