Getting Past the Background

I’m finding it challenging to overcome a a certain aspect of painting.  I’m not sure about other artists, but backgrounds are my problem.  I’m not saying they’re challenging in that they are hard to paint, rather, that I find that I paint them in a way that I’m hesitant to alter them with what is to be the subject matter of the painting.  Often, at least in my last three paintings, the background has taken on a life of it’s own that I just can’t bring myself to change, even if its ostensibly for the better.

Case in point:


This is actually supposed to be the background.  I actually didn’t have a problem with painting over it during my first few sessions working on it, as it wasn’t up to my standards. Here’s some photos of the process:


When I reached the point where I say to myself “I can’t do more with it”, I was in a conundrum.  I could have continued with the foreground subject matter, which was a seagulls eye view of the storm, focusing on how the light would hit its eye (mockup photo below – Seagull sourced from, but I felt it would destroy something that stands on its own.


As a result I’ve decided to stop work and save the bird for another painting. One day I will move past my background blockage, but until then, I hope to present work, even if it is half of what I was thinking of to begin with, that will bring a smile to your face.

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