After the Creative Process
When is a Painting Finished? Part 2
(…according to Dreama)
Undeniably, this is one hot topic and one that’s fun to turn inside out to look for truths.
Triggered by a comment left via Facebook “I like that you know when to stop on a painting” got me to sharing my thoughts on the subject. (If you missed the first post on this you can read it here.)
For the non-artist, this might seem like the most ridiculous question on the planet. For those who paint, the horrors of realizing we should have stopped 20 minutes or 2 days ago on a painting are well known. (It’s even worse now that we can now take a pic of a painting in progress. We can view it later and see the point at which we wish someone would have ripped the brush out of our perfection seeking little paws!!).
So…maybe perfection isn’t the answer for ‘when is the painting finished’. Each change made in a painting creates a new painting with new choices so perfection is a target that is ever moving and changing.
Sometimes in our searching for answers though one question leads to an even deeper one. This one definitely does…
Why are we so bent on getting it perfect?
Or maybe…why do we need for it to be perfect?
Let’s face it. Making art is personal and darn scary at times. If the painting which I created isn’t perfectly awesome then what does that say about me? Yeah, pause and ponder on that little tidbit.
It’s easy to mix up our personal worth with how a painting “turns out”.
Does it happen? You know it!
Part of the struggle in knowing when to stop is the ‘us’ that we see in the artwork we make…
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.” ~Henry Ward Beecher
I think part of the need to keep “fixing” a painting is a fear of really being seen in our work.
Being able to stop when it’s not perfect could be a sign of accepting ourselves as we are.
Perfectly imperfect. A new definition of what ‘perfect’ means.
Life as we know it is beautifully, awesomely, perfectly imperfect.
We love not perceived perfection but the presence of beauty and truth.
Children’s art shows us the way. It is perfect because it is THEM we see stamped all over it. They (and their art) are beautiful, awesome and dare I say it…their own type of perfection…as are each of us who create.
Getting to that mindset of embracing ‘you’ frees the self. It puts you in the place to make the painting and to let go of that endless quest for perfection. Suddenly you are able to see the big picture and not overthink each nuanced stroke.
Getting happy with our imperfectly perfect selves AND our paintings can result in some real moments of beauty and truth occurring. There is a resultant freshness that simply can’t be achieved otherwise!
- You may find that you are actually starting to have a good time painting. While you’re doing it. Letting go of the perfection monster frees one up to just have a darn good time. Who knew?
- Leaving off the “just one more thing” approach to painting results in…FRESH as an iced cupcake brushwork!
- Less nibbling away with a brush in search of the perfect ending means colors don’t become muddied down from over blending. They retain their vibrant personalities!
There are no doubt more things to add to this list but this is one I think that perhaps eclipses all the rest…
Leaving off the hunt for perfection will result in your imprint, your signature look being visible.
In short, you’ll be allowing your real self to be seen.
How beautiful is that?
And isn’t that the real reason for making art? To allow ourselves to be seen in order that we truly connect with one another.
So how do I know when to stop on a painting? My personal story on this…
It’s the one single thing that was and still is both life changing and life affirming for me. Coming in my next post!
What do you see around you that is perfectly imperfect? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
My friend who is an artist also sews quilts. The more she sews, the more complicated the quilts become and the more she strives for perfection because the designs are so intricate that you can notice the imperfections more easily. She’s a perfectionist in everything else she does! So recently, she made a conscious decision to start leaving behind a small “mistake” in each quilt so that she would already know their was a mistake. This way if she found another mistake after the fact, she wouldn’t be bothered by it because she already knew the quilt wasn’t perfect. Interesting idea. Somehow I think I would personally have trouble with that in a painting.
I have enjoyed what you have been sharing and have agreed with all of the points! To finish a painting without overworking it….sounds nice, though a challenge.
Blessed day to you! I love your joy!
Love the vibrant colors your style is so loose That something I have a problem with I like things sharp Looking foward to reading all your blogs and seeing you paintings So nice
Thanks so much for writing this! It addresses a big chunk of my painting experience. Interestingly, I recently purchased a book entitled, “The Spirituality of Imperfection” !. Think God is trying to tell me somethin? 😉 I have over-painted many times in attempt to add detail when really it was much better without the detail, accurate though it may have been. My “best” / most satisfying work has been done in the childlike manner of asking God how to do it and then allowing Him to show me.
from Montserrat with love,
Your post made me smile. I can totally see how this truly relates to me and my painting. You should be a psychologist! Time to let loose and enjoy!
Dreama, you must be part psychiatrist. That is such an insightful answer to the question. It explains why we are so self-critical over every stroke. Thanks for your generous sharing of your talent.
This is fun to think about…As I look around I see beauty in “things” but I also get hung up on the order and placement and detail of “things”. My art room could be full of “things” but I find comfort in the collage of “art making” items of imperfection. But if I walk into another space, I may not find comfort if the space if it’s not decorated quite right. I’ll get hung up on wanting to redecorate it. I think that idea transfers over to my painting. I think our painting becomes intuitive to who we are and what speaks to us as individuals. I know that my painting is done when it feels or looks right to me. Someone else may look at what I’ve painted and feel differently and that’s okay. Its then that I may have to be open to learning something new or not. 💕
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