• Carolyn Land

Am I Done?

“The skilled hand is never anything but the servant of the mind…Even if the professional schools should succeed in producing skilled workers trained in the technique of their craft, nothing could be done with them if they had no ideal.                                                                                                                                                 Pierre Auguste Renoir 

As an instructor the question I get asked most often is, “Am I done”? First, remember your painting is not about perfection unless you are a medical or technical illustrator!  It’s about emotion and design.  You as an artist are sharing an emotional experience with the viewer and as we noted last week, each viewer will bring his own interpretation to what he is sees. What is important, is that you get the viewer to want to see your painting, and that it has a strong enough composition, to make the viewer look at it for some time.

When you have worked on a piece and exhausted your creative energy, stand back and observe what you have done. Ask yourself how you feel about it.   If you can look at it, give your painting a name, and feel good enough about it to sign it, move it to another location. 🙂 Take time off from it, and see how you feel the next day.  If you feel the same, it is done.  Most important, don’t start to second guess yourself.  What if I do this, or what if I do that?  This ability to say “I am done”, comes with experience and confidence.

Collage by FL artist Carolyn Land

The falls


This goes back to knowing what motivates your work.  If you know why you are painting, then you know that there is something about that subject you want to share with the viewer. So go for it…paint!  If you block in a strong understructure to start, you know that what you put on top is going to be held together.  Abstract artists who have a well-structured foundation will find it easier to tell their story.

Pastel painting by Carolyn land

Ice Field Parkway


If you are a realistic painter that means: you have  edited your subject so that it starts out with a strong understructure, arranged  the scene or subject so that the center of interest is in one of the sweet spots, (Rule of Thirds) have enough contrast in the scene that the viewer will be drawn into it, and there are a few other interesting details in the scene or subject, other than the center of interest, that will allow the viewer to move around the painting and back to the most important area.

How do you get to this point, where you can stand back and feel confident enough to say, “I am finished”?

First: Learn about strong composition.

Second: Practice your technique.

Third:  Work with a color scheme.

Fourth: Understand what motivates your creative spirit.

Fifth: Create what you are passionate about.

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