” Finishing a painting demands a heart of steel: everything requires a decision, and I find difficulties where I least expect them…It is at such moments that one realizes one’s own weaknesses.” Eugene Delacroix
Several people responded to the last blog with questions about, “How to stop yourself?” It is hard! In instructional classes, you have instructors who walk by and say, “stop, stand back, look at your work”. When you are painting with a group of peers, someone is bound to stop, view your work and say, “have you looked at that lately, see this area?” But when you are painting alone you do not have that input. Yes, you could set a timer, and when it goes off stand back and asses what you have done. That could also break the mood. I personally prefer to work on several pieces at a time. If I think I am going off track, or I don’t know what to do next, I move to another piece, or go put the wash in the dryer! However, that can also break the mood!
The problem is, we enjoy the process so much, we don’t want to stop; that’s why working on more than one piece at a time helps. When you move away from something and come back, even if it is just working on another piece of work, you see things with more objective eyes. Most important, don’t start to second guess yourself. What if I do this, or what if I do that, when you have just finished working, or you feel conflicted. You are much more objective when you have had a break from something.
After your break, you can always put up three pieces of work, and ask yourself which is the strongest? Why does that work better than this?
You can also take the advice of Leonardo Da Vinci: “When you paint look at your work in a mirror; when you see it, it will be reversed, it will appear to be some other painters work and you will be a better judge of it faults”.
Not having a strong center of interest is the easiest problem to remedy. It can be done by adding a color, changing a value, adding a stronger line, or a little texture. A piece being too busy is more difficult to solve. That is because we tend to fall in love with areas within our painting. “Oh, I can’t take that out!” For the sake of composition, try not to fall in love with areas of a painting, or learn to ask yourself why that part of the painting works, and the rest does not? There may be a lesson in that little area. If you can’t solve your problem, you could also ask yourself if you could use that area you love, as your center of interest, and obliterate the rest?
This ability to say, “I am done”, comes with experience and confidence. Just remember…
“Don’t finish your work too much.” Paul Gauguin Remember: Keep it simple!