My 4th Apple Still Life & Watercolor Fails

My 4th Apple Still Life & Watercolor Fails
8×8 oil on canvas “Apple of Discord”

I’ve finished the 4th painting “Apple of Discord” in the apple still life mini series. The next two still lifes have progressed past the block in stage and the final three have been sketched. I’m enjoying these more than I thought I would and I’m excited to see all nine together on one wall.



Painting Pangs

Despite all the enjoyment I get out of painting, I definitely get frustrated with it at times. The frustration stems from screwing up basic things like eclipses and not seeing it until I’ve applied paint or letting my colors get muddy. When do the avoidable mistakes stop? At what point can a person just pick up a brush and create art on the first try? Occasionally I get it right the first time, but it’s usually a process of errors and corrections. Apple of My Eye is a good example of a painting that I pretty much got right from the start. My instagram feed has the full rundown of the error/correction process I took with this painting.

For the last two years I’ve been really pushing myself to paint. While I have seen improvement, I’m not where I want to be. So, I bought myself a little watercolor set hoping that I would start sketching a little more and stop making mistakes in my sketches.

Watercolor Fails


Ugh! I’m a complete beginner when it comes watercolor. My knowledge of oil paint doesn’t translate at all. I keep trying to use thicker mixes of paint since watered down paint feels so foreign. My husband keeps giving me a tight smile that means “Yikes! You call yourself a painter?” My words, not his. He doesn’t sound like that.


The hubby apparently knows his way around watercolors even though he hasn’t picked up a brush in the last 10 years. He painted the pretty flowers, which I’m going to insist he paint again larger. My painting is the ugly brown chair that vaguely resembles the butt of the cat sitting on it. Which sounds more like what he would say, by the way. A cat butt remark usually sneaks into his critiques at some point.


Part of the appeal of watercolors is that I can easily take it out and about with me. I had grand plans of painting at soccer practices and while on an upcoming backpacking trip, but I’m not sure now.

Painting with watercolors for me will probably end in the same fate as countless other Pinterest activities: Abandoned out of laziness or abandoned in failure. I haven’t reached either point. Yet. I had slightly more success this week with 3 of 4 of those sketches above so I’ll probably try to stick with it for now. If all else fails, at least I got the hubby to paint again.

8 thoughts on “My 4th Apple Still Life & Watercolor Fails”

  • Watercolor is notorious for being a complex and demanding medium….give yourself more of a chance, it takes a while to get a feeling for it. I love to use it for plein air work because it is compact (I make it so). I hope that you stay with it because it is an amazing medium. 🙂

    • I avoided it for years because I was intimidated. I’m definitely going to keep trying. thank you for the encouragement.

  • I went to visit your site and my fat finger hit unfollow! Drives me nuts when I do that. You don’t really have a new follower. Sorry about that. 😆

    I thought I would do the same thing with acrylics that you are trying to do with water color….and now I just use my acrylics as a sub for gesso when I prep the canvas. Lol. I was gonna paint today and ended up varnishing paintings instead and you are right. Varnish completes them in some way. I can’t explain how, maybe a little brighter and more unified. I use so much paint that I don’t get dead or dry sunken spots, so it isn’t about unifying the sheen, but something is different. Do you have any experience with matte varnish? I used gamvar which I like so far and I would say it is semi gloss?

    Anyhow, love your apples. I am telling everyone what my favorites are today. My favorite apple is the core. It is fun and unique and a bit sarcastic. Love it.

    • haha I was wondering about that.

      I’m glad you like the look of varnish. I’m not 100% sure what the varnish does to complete them but I love the look. I’ve been using grambacher damar varnish and it’s very glossy. I don’t have any experience with matte varnish, but I’ve been thinking about using a less glossy varnish. The high gloss makes the painting look like it’s still wet.

      Thank you so much! I think the core is my favorite so far too, but there are some good ones in the works.

  • Clever! Looking forward to seeing the lot of them together too – I love a good series.
    Thanks, by the way, for your comments on my failed watering can painting. I’m sure that if I persisted, I could eke out a certain level of success, but the ship has sailed on the spontaneity of it I’m afraid. I will reassemble the composition another day and have a crack it with fresh enthusiasm – in the meantime, it’s back to simpler objects!

    • Thank you! And you’re welcome. I know how you feel. I have several abandoned paintings that I want to finish but their time has passed and I don’t even want to look at them.

  • With watercolour it can help to create a puddle of water in the shape you want the area of colour to be then drop a very concentrated mix of colour into it. Like your husband does. I don’t think it’s ideal for outdoor scotching as it is not really suited to quick decision making, you need to plan ahead and also each layer must be totally dry before you can do the next one. I moved to oil for plein air work and progressed much faster.

    • Thank you for the tip I’ll try it. I like that it shows mistakes. I want to improve my sketching and I think seeing those mistakes will help me get better at capturing something on the first go. So I think it works well for what I have in mind.

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