Creative Spirit Blog May 16, 2023 Just STOP!
" Emergence" Collage
“I’m always saying to myself: ‘That is not right yet. You can do better’. Its rare when I can prevent myself from taking a thing up again…Sometimes it becomes an obsession.” Pablo Picasso
Sometimes in art and in life it is just good to STOP! Stop what you are doing and take an assessment or walk away and take some time to recalibrate.
Two big questions artists always have are; "what do I do next and when am I finished?" The best answer to both is to stop! When we walk away from something it allows us the time to lose the immediacy of it and return to it with fresh and more objective eyes.
We all have paintings or creative projects we have worked to death. We all have paintings we look at down the road and say, "what was I thinking?" We have all painted over something because it just didn’t feel right. Well sometimes we just need to stop!
I have always been an advocate of working on more than one thing at a time. Aside from the drying time, it keeps me from over working an area or losing the flow.
When I was regularly doing pastel work, I would move from one table to another. I would paint and draw working on something realistic, and then move across the room and work on a collage or textured piece while one was drying or just to give myself a break. Inevitably I would come back and see what I had been doing with new eyes and more insight.
It is easy to lose perspective especially if you are too close to what you are working on or to a situation in life you are confronting. Getting some distance helps you see things more clearly, objectively, and less emotionally. By stopping and stepping away you dial down that emotional component which is the backbone of what you have created. It is hard to solve the compositional features of our work when we are enmeshed with the emotional aspect of the work.
As artists, we are the only ones who can decide if our painting is finished or not. I can only describe this quiet realization of “finished” as a feeling, somewhere between satisfaction and release of pressure, a lack of something niggling me. It’s not something I know at once. Sometimes it takes stepping away and giving it time. This of course is much easier said than done.
I have been finished many times to go back months or years later and change something. Do we ever really know? I can remember sitting in my tent at an art festival thinking I must take that home and fix that upper right corner, only to have it bought an hour later. "Yes, I guess it was finished!"
I think maybe that paintings are never really finished. They just stop at convenient places. Keep Being Creative, but don’t forget to step back, look, listen to what the painting is telling you, and give it time. Carolyn