How many times can you paint over a painting?

I'm often asked this question. This can be a fine line... I can't tell you how many times I've heard artists say the following about a painting... "it wasn't quite right, then I went back in and I overworked, ruining the painting!" So yes, you can overwork it and at other times you can just be unhappy with it and continue to change it until you feel you've a good painting. This is the case of this painting I'm going to show you in the photos below.

This Original Photo Provided My Initial Inspiration:

Original image - a gorgeous sunset over a dark, gray highway

It's a magical pic... just look at that sun setting in the sky! Simply beautiful. 

Now, I'm going to show you the process which had many twist and turns as I worked through all the phases of this painting.

The First Phase, The Block-In:

Block-in or lay-in, of my oil painting inspired by the photo above.

Probably this was my original error. No, I didn't do a 'thumbnail sketch'. Painted directly from the photo. And I might add, not very successful as I look at it today! Still, the point is to get the shapes and shading into place.

So when some friends came by my studio and saw my work at this stage, one of them said, "Oh, you're doing a beach painting." Well, I wasn't, but now I was!

Next Pass, After the Painting "Decided to Be" a Beach Scene:

Yep, It is a beach painting, after all. I have artist friends who never knew this painting started out based on a photo of a highway.

Don't those clouds look awful! But I can work with this. And there's too much green, but I like the path, and finally the sunset or rise has appeared. 

During the Next Phase, the Scene Becomes a Little Clearer:

The beach scene (with sea grasses) is starting to take shape.

Got a ways to go, but making process. The grasses, sand and horizon need work. They are beginning to make some form of a painting; what happened to the sun?

See How the Painting is Progressing?

The continued evolution of this beach painting is really taking shape!

One more pass needed? Or more?!

The "finished" painting hanging on my studio wall.

The painting is ready for the world to see, and hopefully like... maybe, even love. That's how an artist feels upon completing a piece. Yes, you originally paint to please yourself. But you do hope that eventually someone else is going to like/love your work as well.

Alas, in this case, that didn't happen! After going to visit a couple of galleries it still needed a home. So I took a hard look at it and decided I could improve it yet again. This next photo is after another revision. Which happened long after the painting had been "finished" for some time. AND lo and behold... it found a home!! 

The Final Rework, Months After the Painting was "Completed"

I probably could have saved myself hours and hours if I'd worked out the composition early in the game. But this is the 'real' life of painting for me. Some of them work perfectly from the start, and others require much extra work. And sometimes they go to the trash bin! (Much to the groans and complaints of friends and family.)

Hooray! Before I could get this blog out to you, my painting found a home.

Doesn't it look nice in its new environment? It's so different to see a painting in a setting other than my studio. Thank you, collector, for seeing the beauty when all I was seeing was frustration. Guess I finally got it right!

How about you, other artists - do you have stories to tell? I'd love to hear them.