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Help, I’m ruining my painting

Hello, I joined to get some advice on this issue.  I am using TCM to teach myself realism and recently went back to my impressionist/folk style to create something. It isn’t realism (mostly from memory and a bad photo) but there is emotional attachment so want to save.  I made an error in shading on a face.  It was pointed out and I wanted to fix it.  I have tried painting over it but I loose the likeness I had of my husband.  Stranger after stranger appears...  I remove the wet paint with a little linseed oil each time. Now I am loosing the original face as it is fading! I’m paralyzed- I don’t want to repaint the entire thing.  What do I do to keep trying without ruining what’s there? Full painting (critique is great btw - but I know it’s far from perfect ;) and the specific trouble spot follows.  Thanks ahead of time to any who take the time to advise me.


Comments

  • I don't really understand what you are asking. Can you not just paint over the part you want to redo? If you are not able to paint over it wet, you can let it dry and then try again. People here have mentioned using q tips to scrub off paint on a small area. I don't know if I recommend removing paint with linseed oil. That seems like it will make things troublesome for weakening your paint structure and will make trouble for the fat over lean rule if you want to paint over it.
  • I would encourage you to have confidence in your abilities, whether you fix this one or do it from scratch. Maybe if you redid it, you would do it stronger since you could avoid pitfalls from the first time? I have done paintings multiple times with great results. Or you can practice by doing a study on another canvas or canvas pad to ensure you will get it right.
  • I don't really understand what you are asking. Can you not just paint over the part you want to redo? If you are not able to paint over it wet, you can let it dry and then try again. People here have mentioned using q tips to scrub off paint on a small area. I don't know if I recommend removing paint with linseed oil. That seems like it will make things troublesome for weakening your paint structure and will make trouble for the fat over lean rule if you want to paint over it.
    Ah yes of course, I wasn’t very concise.  Specifically, because I have tried to fix this so many times, it’s leaving residue on the painting so I have used linseed to remove it a few times.  It’s now fading and I’m afraid that was the best I will do so didn’t  want to loose that. Is there a better way - it’s a small spot but the spirit of the likeness is important...  
  • mhqoil said:
    I would encourage you to have confidence in your abilities, whether you fix this one or do it from scratch. Maybe if you redid it, you would do it stronger since you could avoid pitfalls from the first time? I have done paintings multiple times with great results. Or you can practice by doing a study on another canvas or canvas pad to ensure you will get it right.
    The study is a good idea.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of that - I guess in my mind you do that first not after.  I started with confidence but it fell apart as I started to see the painting degrade.  
  • Don't get impatient (as impossible as it is sometimes) everybody goes through this and it seems you already know how to fix it but you are lacking confidence. here's an approach you can try: let it dry (touch dry) do a study or two on canvas paper in the same scale. Determine if smaller brush would work better. Or if not a study do something else to get it out of mind for a few days at least. Then make a fresh start. add a drop of oil to your colors on the palette to take care of fat over lean. Don't make Hubby's features too much more detailed than the man next to him. 
    JannG
  • Thank you for the responses and the encouragement. I will leave it alone and work on studies until I get some confidence back - although I don’t doubt a redo would make improvements.  And BOB73, you nailed the impatience issue. 👍
    BOB73
  • I think that it’s nearly impossible to paint a painting exactly the same.  It’s going to be a bit different when you paint it again and again etc. 
    It’s almost like the reverse of the artists curse.  I’m sure you will come up with a good likeness and even better.
    BOB73JannG
  • edited June 14
    This works not too badly as it is. It's a nighttime scene with bright lights around dimly figures. The guy's face is very dimly lit and a very small part of the overall painting. If he's not well lit and very small then why should he be more recognizable than he is already? And your canvas looks quite rough. If that is so, I doubt that you will be able achieve better than what you already have. It works ok. So, maybe leave it alone if you are aiming for realism. 

    The painting works well as a dimly lit sidewalk café  - a scene from everyday life. It is not a group portrait.  Trying to make it one would be to risk losing what already works. To make a successful group portrait of it I suspect: you would need the faces to be in better light and you would need better reference material and a larger canvas so you could zoom in on the faces.  It's very hard to paint a good portrait from a very ordinary snapshot in which the subjects are barely visible.  Don't risk ruining what you've achieved, which, given the reference material (which you said it was poor) is not at all bad    :)
    JannG
  • @tassieguy I wish I had consulted you before I started scrubbing paint off my canvas! But yes, I have decided to touch up lightly and move on. Rough canvas. Tough subject and beyond my ability to be too real with it. 
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