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


Blog 3:4:18 Copyright 2018 David Limrite Artist Teacher Coach Mentor The Completion Question.jpg

Portrait No. 3. I have no idea what I am doing with these portraits. I have a vision for them, so I am heading toward that vision and making adjustments with each new attempt. Hopefully, I will find what I am looking for. In the meantime, I am making art and having fun. 16”x 12”, acrylic on wood. © 2018 David Limrite

“The process should remain unfamiliar and full of surprises. The materials stubbornly assert their own particularity. The material is never wrong. It’s only me that can be wrong.”
Robert Rauschenberg, Artist

The Completion Question

One of the many important things that I have learned over the years is that sometimes it’s not about doing more. It’s about doing less when it comes to finishing a creative project.

Let’s say that I have been working on a painting for quite some time, and I am starting to get a sense that it may be nearing completion. However, it’s just not quite there yet.

My tendency used to be to scrutinize the painting with a fine tooth comb and create a huge “laundry list” of the things that I thought I needed to do to complete the painting. Unfortunately, this method is one of the things that led to me overworking paintings. I used to be a huge over-worker. When I look back at some of those lists, most of the things on them were unnecessary and did not significantly improve the paintings.

I used to think that the more I did to the painting, the better it would be.

BTW, this is also a tactic that I used so that I did not have to finish a painting. Finishing a painting used to scare me, mostly because it meant two things: 

when I finished a painting, it opened me up for criticism and judgment. Especially from my own self. {Smile}. 

Finishing a painting meant that I had to start another one which used to be agonizing and frightening because of all the things that come with that process. Especially, “choosing”.

As I recently wrote about, focusing on and learning to love the process has made all of those negative thoughts go away.

So, now, when I get a sense that a painting is almost finished, I do two things: 

I only do the 1, 2 or maybe 3 things that I absolutely know that I want to do to the painting. The obvious stuff. 

Second, I ask myself:

“What is the least that I need to do to finish this painting?”

Usually the answer is, “Very little”.

I have been so much happier with the results of my paintings since I adopted this “Completion Question”. And, I do not overwork my paintings nearly as much as I used to.

What is the least that you need to do in order to finish your current creative project?





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