KNOWING WHEN TO STOP
Continuing with my explorations into creating more bold, graphic and abstract
figurative pieces. ©2017 David Limrite
“Process is only a means to an end - creating the painting I want. It doesn’t mean anything itself. It’s only a way of creating the result.”
Jackson Pollock, Artist
Knowing When To Stop
“How do I know when my painting is finished?”
This is the question that haunts every artist from beginner to advanced to professional. Knowing when to stop can be difficult. The answer to this question is different for every artist and can only be learned or discovered through practice and experience. It’s all about learning to trust your instincts.
As soon as I get a sense that a painting may be finished, I set it aside and let it marinate for a day or two. After a couple of days of not looking at the piece, I pull it back out again and take a look at it. If I still feel that it is finished, I call it quits. And in doing so, I try not to question my decision or second guess myself.
9 times out of 10, if I go back and work on a piece after I have proclaimed it finished, I usually overwork it, or worse yet, wreck it entirely.
If the piece feels incomplete after setting it aside for a few days and then looking at it again, then it just means that I have more work to do.
One other thing that really helps me is to set a few goals for the painting before I begin. The goals can be anything. For instance, if I decide I want to create a painting that is predominantly blue, then my goal would be to explore the color blue by mixing and applying a lot of different blues. Then, when I proclaim the painting finished, it better have a variety of blues in it.
Setting a goal or two for a painting is helpful for me because when the painting meets those goals, it is probably finished and it is time to stop working on it.
BTW, 2 or 3 goals per painting is plenty. You do not want to overwhelm yourself.
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