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Weekly Blog on creativity and what it takes to be an artist by David Limrite (artist, teacher, mentor & coach)

WHEN IS A PAINTING FINISHED?

David Limrite-Artist, Coach, Mentor, Teacher

My last piece for the show which is totally unfinished.

My short, flip answer to this question is:

"When the artist says it is."

But this answer does not really help us to make an informed and educated decision about whether our current piece is complete or not. Or whether it is even successful.

You had an original vision for your painting.

You have your own standards for your work.

You probably had a list of things that you wanted to accomplish with your current painting.

Have you fully realized your original vision?

Does the just completed painting meet your standards?

Did you accomplish your goals?

Jim Dine says that he considers a painting finished when he either loses interest in it, becomes physically tired while working on it, or when he feels that there is nothing more that he can do to the piece to make it any better.

I try to trust my instincts. I step back from my work a lot. I mean a lot! I spend more time contemplating my work from a distance than I do up close working on it. I have my initial vision, my current goals and my high standards. When I decide to call a piece finished, I just know. I get a feeling deep down inside. I just know! Also, every time I step back to look at my work, I make a short list of things that I want to do to the piece when I begin to work on it again. When I run out of things to put on the list, the piece is finished.

I have put together a list of things for you to consider when making a decision about whether your painting may or may not be finished. You do not need to use them all. Pick the ones that resonate with you and give them a try:

Are you totally satisfied?

Did you do what you wanted to do? Did you fulfill your purpose?

Does the painting look how you wanted it to look?

Is the whole greater than the parts?

If you do one more thing to it you feel as if you will ruin it.

Fatigue.

Lose interest.

When you stop thinking about it.

When you look at it the next day or week, are you still satisfied?

Has every square inch been investigated?

Do you feel as if there is nothing more you can do to the piece to make it any better?

Is there anything you can edit that is not contributing?

Is the piece telling you that it is finished?

You just know. You trust your instincts.

Obviously you will want to check things like:

Craftsmanship

Composition

Design

Visual Harmony / Unity

Don't forget to have fun!

Best,

David