Watercolor cityscape painting demonstration - Learn from mistakes!

Mistakes happen! Even when you go all out with developing great designs, layout a perfect palette of colors and feel as though all the stars are lined up in your favor.

And when things go wrong it's not a time to hang your head, or sweep it under the carpet. Those things will only compound the problems and best left out of the art room.

Here's an example of how I turned mediocrity into a winner.

Before I share all the juicy details let's look at the setup. And by setup I mean we will cover medium, size and a quick look at the design and painting.

Medium: watercolor
Size: 22w x 15h inches
Design/Composition: Cityscape

The Before Version Without Edits

Now it's time to list the improvements needed for the revised version.

Improve shapes, especially the cars in the focal area. They do not reflect the proper light source which is coming from the left-hand side. The cast shadows are bulky and should be offset to the right.

Overall needs better light and shadow. Many shapes are lost and overpainted. The areas that need attention are the lower right quadrant and the street level in the background where shapes are cluttered.

More clarity of what's happening in the lower right-hand quadrant. There are figures walking that are lost as well as the ground level which is overpainted. The ground should be clean a little value since it's in light.

Get to work!

A #2 pencil and paper will take care of the problems. This is the easiest approach and will allow me to think through the process. The great thing is it only takes a few minutes to clean it up and see the changes that need to be made.

Once I'm finished with drawing I can switch over to some watercolor. Using scrap paper and a limited palette I will recreate the same pencil sketches but this time with color. Since I already have in mind where I need to go it's very simply to make the necessary changes and see the improvements.

Using pencil and paper is a great way to make improvements.
Quick color studies based on corrections will build confidence.
Once issues are solved I can redirect energy to finished painting.

Now it's time to put Humpty back together again.

The hard part is done! By taking time to fix the problem areas I can now get to work recreating the watercolor cityscape painting.

Learning From Mistakes - Skills For Developing Quality Artwork

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