Knowing when to stop.

Pollarded Willows and the secret of Eternal Youth
Pollarded Willows and the secret of Eternal Youth

I have no idea! There I was, embarking on a painting – my first ‘proper’ painting for about a year and a half – and then I just stopped.

This painting was not intended to look like this at all, this is my blue underpainting stage, but having added blue tones to the central figure and put in the dark pollarded willows behind her, which were going to be almost silhouettes like my photograph, I stood back and had a look at it, and didn’t know whether to go on.

Part of the issue is that those pollarded willows are so striking and so evocative and I really like their outlines, and I think that if I strengthen the figure in front – she would stand out with full colour – she might shout out the willows. But now I have a painting that has a central figure that is so subtle in tone compared to the background that it is the background that you see first. Which is just really strange: just weird, to my mind, in fact completely wrong! But I sort of like it, I also think that the willows are very aesthetic in silhouette and a multi-armed woman maybe not so much (to everyone at first) that I quite like this visual journey into what is actually in the painting. If I carry on it will become a completely different painting and I might like the result just as much, but I will definitely lose the aspects of it that I am liking now.

Al the same, I am quite confused about whether I should have stopped. Perhaps I will paint a second one, quite differently. The length of time it took me to work out the figure and her reflection merits a re-use alone! For the story of this creature – a many-armed tree dryad – look at my post on Pollarded Dryads and the Secret of Eternal Youth.

Pollarded Willows, Sedgemoor, Somerset
Pollarded Willows, Sedgemoor, Somerset
Pollarded Willows and the secret of Eternal Youth (detail)
Pollarded Willows and the secret of Eternal Youth (detail)
Pollarded Dryad
Pollarded Dryad
Pollarded Dryad (detail)
Pollarded Dryad (detail)


  1. I think some of her elbows could be a tiny bit stronger. Very lovely though. Reminds me of your other bue one with c
    gold leaf

    1. I will concede the far right one (left on the picture) which is backlit, but I don’t want to strengthen the outlined edges…. And yes, I wanted to put gold leaf in, but no way to really add a touch of gold leaf like a hint of shine – have to plan gold from the start as it is so starkly unlike paint…

  2. I keep looking at this. It’s very creative.

    1. thank you! 🙂

  3. Mgon ♥

    So fun and cute! 😀 And I really like the colors – soothing. The water reflection is particularly peaceful.

    1. Less peaceful trying to work out how the reflection would look, Mgon 😉 but thank you!

      1. Mgon ♥

        Oh. I did not realize this is not the finished product. Oops. Heh-heh. That’s what I get for not reading all that you wrote. Sorry. But, honestly, I do like the way the water looks, even though it’s unfinished 🙂 I look forward to seeing the final product.

        1. No it IS the finished product now Mgon! It was not meant to be, but I decided to stop here even though that was not the original plan. Which is why I am feeling a little confused myself 😉

          1. Mgon ♥

            Hah-hah. Ohhh. Okaaay. Glad that’s cleared up.
            I liked it earlier. I like it now. And I’ll like it later! LOL 😀

  4. I like it how it is, she looks very ethereal, will-o-wisp-ish rising up out of the water. Imagine how you could multi-task with all those arms! 😉

    1. Thanks Wendy, and yes I liked the ethereal look, which wouldn’t have been preserved in my intended picture, it’s partly why i stopped!

  5. It’s a marvellous piece. If you’re not sure, try painting over her digitally and see what you think.

    1. Oh, that’s an interesting idea, Rosie! But I have decided: I shall leave her as she is because some of the things I like will definitely be lost if I carry on. But I may use the outline to do an alternative version…. And thank you 🙂

  6. HellO dear Nancy !!! WoW !!! I LOve this painting so much !!! I think it is very beautiful as it is !!!!! It’s a tree spirit and it is nice that is more ethereal than the willows in the background !!! I love the blue colors too !!! Happy spring !!! 🙂

    1. Hi Mirsini, sorry I missed your comment! Thank you, very pleased you like it 🙂 I think this is my ‘blue period’ – the next one is all blue as well, but I have missed the chance to photograph it in good light, again…. Happy spring to you, too 🙂

  7. […] I am on the subject of our very local magical creatures (Rhyne Maidens, Pollarded Dryads), I couldn’t let another winter pass without documenting the Winter Tree Demons. Not so […]

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