How Do You Know When Your Painting is Finished?
This is the question I receive most often from the general public at art shows and from students in workshops. The general public asking the question I can understand, because abstract painting is not copying a photo. Obviously if you're copying a photo, it's finished when it looks like the photo (according to John Q. Public). I just have a hard time understanding why an artist would ask when do you know if it's finished. It's your painting, you should know when it's finished! One of my favorite lines from Brian Rutenberg is "You don't ask a baker of cupcakes, when is it a cupcake? It's a cupcake when it's a cupcake!"
Often I'll see a post on social media where an artists asks their followers if the painting is finished. Again, if the artist doesn't know, then no one else will either! I believe your painting is finished when you have met your intentions for the painting.
Like I said in a previous post, I think you need intentions and baseline criteria from which to judge your work. Each of these will provide you with enough direction to determine if the work is finished. If you have intentions for the work before you begin, then when you're not sure if you're finished, check the progress of the work against your original intentions to see if they have been met. If so, then the work is finished. I use my intentions and the design fundamentals of shape, value, color, edges and center of interest as my baseline criteria. I judge my work, and that of others using those 5 design fundamentals.
Two other things I believe are helpful. The first is to stop before you think you are finished, thus keeping yourself from overworking the painting. Second, overwork 50-100 paintings so you'll know how far is too far to take a pice before it's completely overworked, and all the life has been drained out of it.
The more you paint, the better you will be at judging when a painting is finished. You'll overwork some, underwork others, and some will be "just right." As you gain more experience, you'll find that more paintings will fall into the "just right" category.
If you'd like to learn to more about abstract painting, then please join me for a painting workshop: (You can view a list of 2018 and 2019 workshops HERE)
September 10-12 Merced Art Center, Merced, CA. To register contact Bo Petty 209-388-1090.
October 19-21 Eastern Shore Art Center, Fairhope, AL. For more information and registration Click Here. SOLD OUT
November 10-11 Art of the Carolinas, Raleigh, NC. For more information and registration Click Here.
November 14-16 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration Click Here.
January 10-12, 2019 Arts Alliance of Lee County, Fort Myers, FL. For information and registration Click Here.
January 25-27, 2019 Daytona Art League, Daytona Beach, FL. SOLD OUT
February 6-8, 2019 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration Click Here.
March 5-8 Cultural Arts Alliance, Santa Rosa Beach, FL. For information and registration contact Bonnie Loman. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, thanks so much for your support!
P.S. If you you'd like to learn how more about Design Fundamentals, I have a great course available for you:
Design Fundamentals for the Artist will provide you with the fundamental knowledge you need to become a better painter. You can find out more by Clicking Here.
Design Fundamentals for the Artist EBook. My Newest Ebook is filled with in-depth information on the five major Design Fundamentals of Shape, Value, Color, Edges and Center of Interest. Exact, practical, easy to understand instruction on how to implement each fundamental to make your paintings better than they have ever been.
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