Class Notes: Reworking and Good Design

I like the idea of reworking a loser painting because - well, there is nothing to lose. This little 6"x 12" painting was done at the end of August; Dave Montgomery, Sue McCullough and myself drove up toward LaVeta Pass with the intention of capturing the blooming chamisa (lovely to look at - bad for allergies). The three of us had just been a week painting in Rocky Mountain National Park and felt very sure this humble subject would make for an easy painting day. Ha!
I approached the chamisa landscape as pattern - good idea but poorly executed- and was not happy with the abstract design when I was done. As so often happens when you are "out there" - the view takes over your design sense and the result is a bust.
By the time I got home, after a warm morning, the paint had pretty well set up. When I scraped down the chamisa field shape, the paint came off leaving striated lines that can be seen clearly in the photos below. Disgusted, I tossed the whole thing aside.

About a week later, I took another look at my little panel and wondered if those scrape marks might create a nice background texture.
Technique-y tricks aside (that would be scrape marks), what the painting really needed was a design that worked.
So, using as few strokes of paint as possible, I tried to create a pattern of color that would lead the viewer's eye back through the chamisa field, and create a tension that moved the eye back and forth between the upper left area and the lower right area.

In the end, a little paint or a lot, total redo or a simple tweaking of certain elements, it all comes down to good design. The challenge is to avoid letting the view derail our good design sense.