I've been taking a class this semester from the amazing Jake Parker. In it we've been doing visual development for Jack in the Beanstalk, aiming for a classic Disney style.
Here's my Jack:
And some development sketches for his face:
I painted an entire version of the painting above to completion before stepping back and realizing that I had neglected to think about the personality of the character throughout the process. I had gotten so caught up in thinking about the technical aspects, I forgot to make story my first priority. Upon realizing this, I scrapped the other image and re-painted the above. I am a thousand times happier with this one.
I'm learning more and more how necessary it is to be willing to sacrifice a painting. If it isn't right, it isn't right, no matter how much time I've spent on it. If it doesn't solve the problem that's been given me, it's not a successful piece. I can't be afraid to start over or sacrifice parts of an image I might like in order to make it stronger as a whole. This has been a frustrating lesson to learn. But always more satisfying in the long run.
And while I cursed myself at the time for not correcting my mistake earlier on, I learned a lot in painting the first version. So I guess I can't say it was useless time spent.
It's a learning process, this art thing. There aren't any secret answers or shortcuts... or magic beans. Just a lot of working at it.