I used to think that it was a sin to rework an illustration after it had been published. But there’s plenty of historical precedence for post-publication alterations: Howard Pyle, for example, did a lot of picture-tweaking for a variety of reasons (some of which I discussed here and here).
Then again, Pyle - and plenty of other authors, too - sometimes made major revisions to his stories in between serial and book publication - changing plot lines, cutting characters and scenes, etc. - and didn’t, to my knowledge, catch any flak for his actions.
So, I wondered, if a book is out of print with no real chance of being revived, why not revisit its illustrations in hopes of breathing new life into them? I decided to do a little experiment...
The picture shown here started out as my illustration for the now long-gone Jonkonnu by Amy Littlesugar, which deals with an incident in the life of Winslow Homer - and for which I tried to emulate Homer’s style as best I could with limited skills. I didn’t rework the picture with real ink and paint, however: I just digitally altered a low-resolution scan of a proof (hence the not-great quality).
I’m still not brave or foolhardy enough to start messing with my original drawings and paintings, but it could be only a matter of time.