When I start a studio painting from a field sketch or a reference photo, I go at it with full confidence and much excitement but my semi-conscious mind always knows it may or may not work. For one thing, watercolor is such an elusive medium. Oftentimes, if a painting doesn't work out, it's too difficult to salvage or rework it.
A painting may look good at first but it can lose a certain flow at some point and initial enthusiasm may quickly fade. An experienced watercolorist will know then how to get back in the flow quickly, or even to take advantage of the unexpected and take it to a new direction.
It's not easy to do for those of us who may not have years and years of training in this craft. But the lesson we can learn from them is that we have to be always in control. The minute I feel that all-too-familiar sense of panic ("Oh, this is not going well" or "Oops, I am ruining my painting"), I take a deep breath, and remind myself of the initial excitement that made me want to do the painting. That gives me a boost to my confidence. Or, if I feel too tired, I put down my brushes right away and leave the unfinished painting for a few days or even a few weeks. Later on I can usually see more clearly how I can pull it off if at all possible.
I started this painting but I felt it was not working. So I put it away and made another painting of the same scene, which went well. But ten days later, I was able to see where I was going, change the course, and somehow pulled it together.
Pauma Valley, San Diego I
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)