How do you know when a painting is done?

I get this question a lot, "How do you know when your painting is finished?" "How do you know when to stop?'

It's complicated...

And I'm not sure if there is an answer. Some days I can finish a painting in one sitting and smile when I'm finished. Most days, I have to walk away and look at it another day with fresh eyes, and another day, and so on. I'll hang it in my home, somewhere where I have to look at it often, taking note of the feelings I get when I look at it. I usually ask myself these questions about the painting

1) Does it "feel" like me?

2) Does it make me happy, calm or provoke a memory or value-how do I connect with it?

3) Do I want to sell it? If the answer is no, because I love it too much, then it's done. If the answer is no, because I wouldn't be able to have a confident conversation about it or be hesitant to say it was my work, then it needs more work.

Here's an example for you from a painting I reworked this week. First of all, this piece is really different for me, so I wasn't sure about any part of it. I started it several weeks ago after a Sunday drive right when things were starting to green up for spring. I wanted to push myself to play with a cooler color palette, different from my normal pinks and oranges, and capture more greens and blues from the color palette I viewed on my drive.

Before picture

This has been hanging in my master bath for about three weeks now. Every time I  walked in my bathroom, I cringed. Not because it was ugly, but because it didn't feel like me, and I kept thinking of a golf course every time I looked at it...I played golf every summer growing up and it was not a fun experience for me, but very frustrating, hot and long. Someone else may have connected with this in a good way, but it still didn't feel like "me". It felt chaotic-in a bad way, not a fun way, and well, just unfinished.

After I reworked
Here's the piece after the rework. It really doesn't convey the images and colors from my Sunday drive anymore, but more of the the feeling I had reworking it, a sense of calm yet still energetic. I ended up naming it "The Hourglass" because thats what I kept thinking of when I stepped back and viewed it. News flash, sometimes my painting names aren't so deep at all :) But it did make me think of fleeting time and I found this quote, 

“Our lives are but specks of dust falling through the fingers of time. Like sands of the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” Socrates 

And then, that got me thinking about how God views time verses how we view time, and then took me into a deep dive of time scriptures. I landed on 2 Peter 3:8-9 to place on the back. II always like to "plant a little seed of truth" on the back of my works. 

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

What a wonderful promise!! If you'd like to see this piece in person, it will be at Bella Case Interiors on the Fayetteville square.

 

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