Change a Painting -why?

recent paintings

 Why change a painting? Alan Brain recalls some examples…


Sometimes, after you think you have finished you decide to change a painting. It can be months later, even years –  that itch to alter it some, develops into an irresistible urge and inevitably you go for it!


And sometimes you get it wrong and the painting is abandoned, but sometimes it works for sure and you are pleased you did it; other times you just don’t know. Such is life, each painting is an experiment after all.


Here is a recent example…


abstract painting - cold place

abstract art – cold place

I wanted to create a cold place to be and I think I succeeded but it is not a particularly interesting painting.








I do like the shapes however with one rectangular cutting out another at an angle















I gave myself permission to change a painting and have fun with it to the point of destroying it. I surprised myself when I did it this way. Turning the painting on its side after it was finished was exciting. Not cold anymore but very hot, almost surreal artwork which was not intended.






Here is another recent example…

I painted this in 2012 and it has been hanging in my studio for much of that time. I got irritated with the “diving board” and the general scruffiness of the piece; so I just had to change it


Passing Through, Original Painting by Alan Brain

abstract painting Passing Through



And here is the result (I just could not help change the colours some )


payson arizona a painting called passing through

Another attempt to change a painting…


I was quite happy with this watercolour called “Slipped” but after a while I was convinced it lacked real interest. I decided to go for it


changing a painting slipped


The large dominant rectangle was somewhat boring and not really representing something interesting or of real value. I did after all want to express something damaged by slipping, if what has slipped has no value then who cares if it is damaged!



I added texture to the large box in a gold colour which should add interest and a sense of value. I hoped 🙂 The small yellow rectangle was a bit too dominant and I liked the idea of adding a “window” so I reduced the intensity but left a yellow vertical to suggest a window.

Then I added a reddish border to part of the rear rectangle to give a sense of depth.

And lastly I wanted to suggest the large shape had hit something causing the cracks, the very small shadow is all I could summon up the courage for. But I think it is sufficient.

Job done. Am I pleased I changed it? Oh yes.


Here is another example of before and after the change,  it is a watercolour painting –


original watercolour painting are you invited

original watercolour painting for sale. Texture and luminous colour create this art



original watercolour painting Invited?

Invited? modified



Why did I change this painting? I thought the first one was too friendly. The shape behind the big blue rectangle, and particularly the figure behind the table, was not convincing me that you are intruding into a rather seedy environment. So I have attempted to make it more seedy and to make you cautious to enter his world.


Do I prefer it to the first one? Yes. Is it getting the feeling I want? Not yet, not in full anyway – I may change it again in a few months 🙂



Change a painting? Should I have left the paintings alone? Please give me your comments in the box at the end of this post


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  1. Hi Alan,
    I love the color changes that you made. Now I can really enjoy that rich red. I haven’t decided if I like what you put on the table. Maybe it could be simplified again? Interesting to hear your reasoning behind the changes.

    • Hi Ruth,
      thanks for your comments. yes the old greenish shape competed with the orang shape, it was too nice. i will take a look at the table after I have “forgotten” about this painting then I will see it with a clear eye. cheers for now alan

      • Helen

        I like the 2nd more, the first did not have your usual subtlety in the interiour portion – . Maybe if you do a 3rd an even more 2nd shadowy figure? Not being able to see 1st & 2nd table’s together I didn’t really notice the table.
        Just been reading an article on Charles Avery in a super book called ‘Drawing Projects’ & the spareness of the figure looks a little like a CA.

        I get absolutely petrified when starting to alter a piece I’ve put a lot of work into – but don’t like. Today I did change the direction of a new on paper work, the paper wasn’t really thick enough to have washes over the pen and ink drawings. So double jeopardy – the work had had a lot of emotion and novel way’s to me on working on it. It was a mess- and I really couldn’t see a way out. I almost will never give up on a piece though. But today I chanced it again – and it was amazing – I could see what it could become – this is always a supreme gift when this happens. (I love my new book “Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen And Jack Southern)

  2. Marsha

    Wish I had the courage you have shown. You are telling the story in a more mysterious way. Yes, you “damaged” it irreparably, but now we are more aroused to learn more. The original bright colors were overpowering, I think. Kudos to you!

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