The Nuns, revisited

blog-picI painted this about a year ago, from a photo I took during last summer’s vacation. It has never “felt” quite right….something, something, has always bothered me about it. I’ve taken it out from time to time during the year, trying to come to grips with what it was…, a year later …

I can see I let the photo lead the painting, shortcomings and all. I was too literal with the reference. Various areas vying for attention, rendered nothing as the focal point. The areas circled below highlight this;

1. The fountain has a lot of contrast plus too warm a color for the rest of the painting

2. This high contrast edge draws the eye out of the picture to the right

3. Another high contrast line drawing the eye out of the picture

4. Another high contrast get the idea

All of these things work to break down the flow and basic premise of the painting, which was the two nuns at the water cistern.




When I have a painting like this I feel there’s nothing to lose, so I began the makeover…


I got rid of the contrast on the right building, thought what if the fountain was lighter, the steps more in harmony with the nuns, starting to go in a better direction.


Push the fountain way back, just because you can paint something doesn’t mean you should. The nuns are starting to look like they have more life, there’s some air around them to breath.

nunslrfinalA little more work and the nuns have finally prevailed as the  stars of the painting, (even though they were never touched in this made-over version).


4 Replies to “The Nuns, revisited”

  1. Thank you for this, Diane! It was very interesting and inspiring in a very practical way. Now it’s a great painting and I can see why you wanted to paint this scene! I will now have more conviction when looking back at my own paintings that don’t seem to be working as they should. I like the idea of isolating and listing the problem areas…I think photos can really help one to see the problems.


    1. Janet, One of the good things about reworking a painting you did awhile ago and aren’t happy with, is it’s amazing how your perceptions change, how your eye improves. It’s really time to celebrate when you can now see, what you couldn’t see a year ago!


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