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Doing the same painting in different mediums

Sometimes I have to do the same painting twice.

You know how it is, you paint it, and as your painting you think "this would be really fun in oils" or "I bet I could capture this light in pastel" so off I go on a second version.

This is not a bad thing! Its like giving yourself a second chance. Who wouldn't like a second chance?

This is a pastel version of a barn interior I did as a demo painting in a plein air workshop.

Same barn interior but done in oil with a painting knife

What I learn from this is different media have different strengths and weaknesses. After doing this a few times, I can look at a scene or a reference photo and tell immediately what medium it would translate into better. Inevitably, I like the pastel versions better!

Fleeting Moment, pastel 24x36

This is one of my all-time favorite paintings. What I like about it the most is how the pastel can be layered to create luminous light. It's very hard to do that in any other media. You can see this in the sky upper left corner and in the water reflection of the same area. I just had to try the same scene in oil.

Fleeting Moment in oil using a painting knife

Same scene with an additional bird in the water and minus the one in the sky. This painting was done in oil using a painting knife. I like the chunkiness of the color, and how the knife strokes define the shape of the color. Gone is the light airiness of the pastel. I learned a lot from the process of painting this, and encourage you to do the same.


1. Choose one of your favorite paintings to reproduce. If its a pastel or watercolor, have it printed on a canvas to save you the time of drawing it to scale. you can do this at and it will take a few days.

2. Approach it differently, work in a medium opposite your usual medium and follow the rules of that medium (eg. paint from dark to light, etc).

3. Pay attention to the process! Notice what effects you get from the paint that you don't get from the pastel or vice versa. What are the strengths and weaknesses?

4. Hang the finished pieces side by side. Objectively critique what works and what doesn't. Keep this in mind as you look at your next painting.

If you painted the same painting twice, post photos below and lets take a look!

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