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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Land

Let’s Call it Done

“I am hoping it’s done.  I want it to be done, but I am not always sure.  Every painting I have done has been overworked, at least some area of it.”                                                                  Eric Fischl

A reader sent me an article she read on the same subject I addressed last week. (How do you know when you are finished?)  In it, there were three great quotes which I am sharing with you.  All of them hold some truth, and all are thought provoking.

Art is never finished, only abandoned. Leonardo da Vinci

Oh, I have abandoned many! That is the pile, I look at and say I am going to work on these some time. Then again, maybe someone will find them years from now, and think Wow!  Why are these in this pile in the closet?

A painting is finished when the artist says it is finished.  Rembrandt

We are at the last step.  We know we are almost there, but one little thing is still bugging us.  What to do?

I have a great sight-line from my kitchen door to my studio easel.  And each time I pass the doorway, the painting I am working on catches my eye.  For days now, I have been studying this painting, I have been working on for awhile.  I go in, and add a little here and a little there.  So far, no damage! I am at the point now where I am almost finished.  But…something is just not right.  It needs something.  I don’t want to over work it, or give myself a whole new set of problems to solve. This is a critical step, because anything I put in, can change everything that is already there.

Each part of a painting is interconnected, so when we add something, it effects the whole of the painting.  That is why taping a piece of colored paper in, gives us a chance to test what will work best, without ruining the whole thing.

There is an old art school saying: “It takes 2 people to make a painting; the artist and someone to kill the artist before he ruins it.”

A painting is never finished, it simply stops in interesting places.

Paul Gardner

Acrylic painting by FL artist Carolyn Land

Man Versus Nature 5

After giving these three quotes some thought this week, I would have to say I am partial to this last quote. So, I am going to stop nitpicking, on this painting I have been working on. I added that last wash over it.  It seems to be at an interesting place.  I will now have a dialog with it for a while, as a viewer.  If my dialog is interesting enough, I might frame it, or at least mat it.  If not…it will go in the “It is not finished” pile, to be dealt with at a later date.

No matter what voice you speak in, representational or non-representational, the question of when to stop is the same. Stop at an interesting place and have a dialog with your work, as a viewer.

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