I’m one of those people who will very easily ruin something by doing “just a bit more” to it. One reason I feel I’ve had so much success posting my writing as soon as I’ve written it is it forces me to *stop* tweaking it. Even if my tweaks don’t ruin it, publishing it defines a point at which it’s set in jello, if not actual stone. It’s not as tempting to go back and fiddle and fiddle until I’ve driven myself mad.
That said, I still do it sometimes. Just not nearly as much, and usually the time that has passed between when I stopped working on it and when I go back to fiddle allows the changes to be more clearly defined in my head and more useful to the final product.
I also do this with art, usually to a more devastating degree. Because mostly you can’t go back to an earlier version if you decide something you did ruined it.
However, I’m getting better at knowing when to just stop, and knowing when I really need to add more. That fine line between just enough and too much, between improving and ruining.
Looking at my leaf, I really liked it. I was amazed that it turned out as well as it did. The colors were well blended, the shape was recognizable but also a little unusual, and I really liked the ‘runs’.
But it also felt very flat. And the more I looked at it, the more I wanted to keep going on it, but was being held back through that fear of ‘ruining’ it. Which is why I’m glad I kept the label of “practice piece” on it, because otherwise I might never have worked up the guts to go back and try to improve on it.
I looked at more leaves on the ground, freshly fallen with Autumn, and tried to get a feel for how I could change mine to look more real. I watched a bunch of watercolor youtube videos and got a good idea to add a slight shadow to ground it to a surface instead of just floating on a white space. I let myself play with a couple different brushes and darker colors.
I can see a few places where I need to blend colors better, but all in all, I am *delighted* with how well the changes came out. The barest shadow adds depth – but with a lightness that suggests it without beating you over the head – and the darker colors make it feel more ‘real’ to me.
I also added a bit of a poem at the side which reads:
When the earth sighs
‘Neath the burden of the year
And the land cries “Enough!”
Then laid to rest
Are the dreams of yesterday
Never quite finished
The tasks laid out before us
Cut short as Autumn falls
So many best laid plans
Sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone. Sometimes you need to be brave enough to keep going.
Don’t ask me how to tell which is which, still haven’t figured that out.
I picked up two new brushes, some watercolor postcard stock (pre-printed on the back), and some tubes of wet watercolor paint at the store yesterday. I’m very excited to play in this medium more, both the watercolor itself and mixing my art with poetry or writing.