Dreama Tolle Perry » Artist and Writer

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When is a Painting Finished? Part 3

Paint Provence ONLINE with Dreama. Learn More> http://dreamatolleperry.com

“Timeless Moments of Provence”
12 x 9in oil on museum quality panel

SO WHEN IS A PAINTING FINISHED…according to Dreama? 

If perfection in a painting is not the gold standard for deciding if it is finished, then what is?

For me it is…

Abandoning the idea of perfection in my work, a relaxing of my “standards”.    This one single thing was and still is both life changing and life affirming for me.  It’s me accepting me.  With every painting there comes a  letting go of my need for perfection.  Each letting go brings me a little closer to my one true self.

Happily looking for signs on when my painting is finished I ask myself questions like these:

Does it contain within it that joy I felt while doing it?
Can I view it and feel a tenderness and kindness towards myself?
Does it make me smile?
Do I see “me” in it?

It has helped me to realize that my art is not about “wowing” someone else with my skills.
It is about bringing some smiles, some truth, some happy to this life while I am here.

I won’t always be. Here.  So while I am I want to really BE here.  In all my imperfect ways, painting life as I find it. Sharing it (and thus a piece of myself in the process) and not getting stuck on the perfection thing.

If it’s not perfect then it is for sure…me 🙂 I am imperfect in every other area of my life. Why would I think I’m going to pull a rabbit out of the hat on this painting thing?  Chuckles here.  The beauty of it all is that we are perfect.  Perfectly imperfect.
And so goes our painting.

Each time I create I get to choose.  A form of contrived perfection OR seeing imperfect me in my work.
I choose the imperfections.
In exchange the paintings seem to breathe on their own.   They have a sense of liveliness.  I tend to nod at them in my studio and smile at their quirky personalities.  Just like my unruly hair, they are fine just as they are.

And so are you… and your creative work.

So my 2 cents worth on how to decide when a painting is finished?

Set your own guidelines for when a painting feels good to you.  Not perfect, but good and imperfectly you.
Paint from your heart, paint with joy, let go of perfection, embrace the beauty of truth in yourself and your art.


It delivers the emotion you felt. It makes you smile. It feels joy.
It is finished.

It’s not about perfecting a painting.  It’s about allowing your heart to maintain the joy from one painting to the next.  Not pressing it all out to gain some crazy idea of perfect.  All of life is abundant with joys, carrying from one moment to the next…let your paintings simply pause and breathe in that joy from one to the next.  You have done your work and it is good.  Rejoice in that!

I’d love to hear some of your own feel good guidelines for when you feel your painting is finished and come to a happy ending! Leave a comment below…you may just inspire a fellow creative 🙂

  • Cheryl Herbert - June 7, 2017 - 7:15 pm

    I always feel its time to stop, when my itchy paint brush holding hand wants to do more… STOP my mind screams. Step away from that painting, Miss!!! Breath a deep sigh, and walk away…ReplyCancel

  • Laine Discepoli - June 6, 2017 - 11:43 am

    I find this whole topic interesting because I actually am often afraid I stop too soon! I worry I’m too impatient as I enjoy painting and finishing in one sitting – so I’m often finished in a matter of hours. So for me.. I worry that I’m NOT finished even though I;ve put my brushes down and cleaned up… that I’m not a dedicated enough artist or judge my work with a critical enough eye.
    Either way – I agree that we should just paint for the pure joy of it…to capture whatever essence we desire and then to be satisfied as long as we’d enjoyed the process. I think of painting a canvas like going to a movie… not a huge investment, often a wonderful, sometimes emotion-filled experience and sometimes a dud. I previously did decorative painting for a living which meant I was always working on wall finishes, murals, cabinetry, etc and there was always a deadline, and expectation, etc associated with a paycheck. Painting a canvas for me is truly a pleasure…and I try t stay focused on the journey – NOT just the destination! Seems like a Dreama thing to say, yes?ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Holland - June 6, 2017 - 10:21 am

    Such truth resonating with me in these statements. Everyone has their own way of creating and using tools. We all create our own truth in our paintings. We do hope it resonates with others, bringing something to life for them. Inspirational! Love your heart, Dreama!ReplyCancel

  • Carole Carroll - June 6, 2017 - 9:03 am

    Thank you for modeling joy in painting! I love your perspective! Your color palette celebrates the joy you feel.ReplyCancel

  • Betsy Duncan - June 6, 2017 - 7:41 am

    Thank you, Dreama, for your personal insight and thoughts on this ever present delimma! It is inspiring!ReplyCancel

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