As an abstract artist, I often get asked how do I know when a painting is finished? I think this is something you learn over time and it varies but to give you an idea, here I am in early 2019 doing an art commission for a client in America. I thoroughly enjoyed making this painting and if I’m honest, I was a little slow to hand it over to the courier!! This is because I considered it a ‘marker’ painting in my portfolio of work. During the making of it, I felt fully in control of what I was doing and trusted myself to make the right decisions. I experimented, took a couple of risks and when finished, it felt complete. However, that feeling isn’t always present on completion of a painting, it comes with maybe 1 in every 10 paintings which again is why this painting was a little more special. See this finished work ‘Steadied Thinking’ here as a print.
Knowing when a painting is finished can read a couple of ways. It will ‘click’ like what happened with the above situation but also you know from experience when to put down the paintbrush and let the painting dry. This is learned from practice, I can recognise that moment whereby if I keep working on this I’m going to ruin it because it will become overworked, probably with muddied paint marks which will deplete the painting’s sense of balance and composition.
An artist friend once compared knowing when a painting is finished to knowing when you like someone- it sort of hits you, you smile and you don’t want to take your eye off the person…. It’s a relatable analogy I’ve borrowed a couple of times to describe how to know when a painting is finished!