I sometimes look back at my old paintings and see how far my skills have developed from then.  I figure they will never be seen in public now as they just aren't up to scratch.  So what do you do with them other than put them back into storage taking up space.  My solution is that each year I select 2-3 and repaint them completely, over the original.  Here is an example of how I go about it.


Lets start with an old oil painting in a frame.  Its a bit rough by my current standards, and some orange spots have appeared on the surface. Its definitely never going to be shown. Step one is to get it out the frame.  In this case the frame had seen better days too and almost fell apart.


the original painting The original painting


The next step is quite brutal - get some sandpaper and rub down all the lumps and bumps of paint, and give a key on the shiny parts.  But stop short of removing the picture altogether, as it is still useful to show where everything goes and its rough colour.


After sanding down After sanding down


Having committed to the project by damaging the painting I now feel there is nothing to lose by letting loose with the paint. As usual I start with the sky.  Here I want to give some atmosphere, so I mix on the painting, starting with white and Vandyke brown, cobalt blue, some purple closer to the horizon, a touch of naples yellow in the middle and a bit more brown at the top. Once I'm happy I start blending it down into the mountain tops.


Sky done, mountains next Sky done, mountain next


I then worked with a small brush adding first a light pink to the mountains as streaks diagonally in both directions, and then added white in the same way for the brighter patches of snow, and a purple/blue/white mix for the shaded snow. At the same time I carried on with the big brush taking the purple white base colour down to the mid ground.


the mountains emerge the mountains emerge


As I came down from the snow I started introducing hints of other colours.  Naples yellow worked well for the dormant grass, but the areas of trees proved trickier to get right. I started with sap green, but found it far too potent for a misty mid ground, so I added cobalt blue and vandyke brown to the mix, belnding it almost but not quite completely, so just a little texture shows through. For the nearer grasses I added just a touch of chrome yellow and burnt Sienna, to give the impression of more coming through as the view gets closer - though it is still a long way down to it.


mid-ground done, time to pause mid-ground done, time to pause


At this point I had reached a natural break point. The rest of the painting is foreground, which will need stronger colour, so rather than carry on, I left it a couple of days to dry before continuing. The light was also fading by this point, so definitely a time to pause.


starting on the rocks starting on the rocks


With the background sufficiently dry, I made a start on the rocks.  The base colour for these is Vandyke brown, with a little cobalt blue, adding in Naples yellow and a little white here and there. I also added a touch of sap green in places to suggest life on the rock surface. Around the rocks I pushed spare pigment out for later use.


swapping to the ice swapping to the ice


Whilst the paint was still wet I swapped to the ice, first blending white into the pigment I had spread earlier, and then building up layers of white, partially blended in with a small brush. Finally with a rigger I lashed white pigment on top to give the effect of the delicate ice crystals that grow out into the wind.  That just leaves a little more rock and its complete.


One thing you may spot from the completed picture (below) is some streaks in the sky. This was caused by scratching too deep when creating a key to paint over. The paint is wet at this point, and hopefully will settle down again once dry. If not, then the sky may need some more attention.


An Caisteal by Richard Paul An Caisteal
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© Richard Paul