What to do ....when it goes wrong!!!!

What to do ....when it goes wrong!!!!

So what do you do when a watercolour goes wrong....if you are me you may well scream at it, or blame the kids, or the cat ! Then tear it up and vow never to touch a paintbrush again. These are all options, but there are ways to put things right , sometimes they work , sometimes they don't and sometimes a painting is beyond redemption. But I thought I would share some of my knowledge with you , in case you are having a bad day ....

Watercolour is a tricky medium ,and I admit my best work is spontaneous and confident, but I have redeemed some ugly ducklings of paintings and here is what I have done. 

1. A drip of paint where you don't want it.....be quick use a piece of kitchen roll and blot it up ( try not to rub or damage the paper)

2. A whole section looks wrong,.....use a spray bottle to squirt the section and again kitchen roll to blot it away...don't start painting again until it is dry.


3. It all looks wrong....run the whole painting under the tap ( water is a bit of a theme here) . Some paints stain more than others , but once it dries you have some colours and textures to work with. I do this on purpose with some of my work to add depth to the finished piece.


Lots of my owls go under the tap, after the first painting.

4. The tone is all wrong.....so step back from your painting and really look, where do you need to add darks, I can find it useful to walk away from a painting then come back to it.and see it fresh eyes. This painting for example looked wrong and on reflection ( get it ?) I knew I had to add more darks,



5.In this piece the bird looked wrong.....


and voila washed away and replaced with a cloud.

6. Sometimes a painting needs more not less, these 2 looked too separate and so I added a background....



My advice is always to give yourself a break. As artists we look at it too closely, step back and give it some time, have a cup of tea, it may not seem too bad after that. If it goes too wrong then learn from it and move on, paint when you don't feel too tired or stressed at the end of the day each piece is a learning curve  . We all hope our latest piece will be a masterpiece, sadly it usually isn't, that;s what keeps us striving ....


Back to blog

1 comment

Thank you, as an amateur sometimes I look at my work and think; it’s wrong, but what’s wrong. Your advice is truly sound and instructive – I’ll try to follow it!
Thanks for sharing your wonderful paintings!


Leave a comment