Monday, September 16, 2013

Is It Done Yet?

Marsh House 2013 Katherine Kean
oil on linen 6 x 6 inches

How do you decide when a painting is done?

 For me this has always been something that's mostly intuitive, but as I go along I realize that these days I spend a lot more time thinking about it - especially as I'm approaching the end. Lately it seems to be a matter of whether I feel 've reached clarity on what I think the painting is about.

What do other artists say? Here are some quotes on the subject:

"To put it as simply as possible - and this is a simple answer, not a total answer - I know when a painting's finished when I understand why I wanted to do it in the first place." James Elkins

"The painting is finished when the idea has disappeared." Georges Braque

"One always has to spoil a picture a little bit in order to finish it." Eugene Delacroix

"That's the terrible thing: the more one works on a picture, the more impossible it becomes to finish it." Alberto Giacometti

"When a painting is done I feel it actually recedes from me. Everything coalesces and moves away, and I can no longer focus on a single part of it. It suddenly does this gestalt." April Gornik

"It can be difficult to assess when a painting is complete. For this reason, I often set aside the painting to prevent overworking it. When I am unsure, I ask myself if doing more would add or take away from the purpose of the painting." Mary French

"I paint until I become the audience staring at the painting staring back at me. It’s how I know the painting is done." Eric Fischl

"When nothing is wrong anymore, then I stop." Gerhard Richter


Kathryn Hansen said...

here's another one that always comes to mind: art is never finished, only abandoned, from Leonardo da Vinci.

i think for me, it's done if i can live with it just as it is...does that make sense?!!!

Unknown said...

I struggle with that all the time. I wanted to tell you the same quote that Kathryn Hansen just wrote. But I couldn't remember who said it, anyway. Your painting is exquisite! It just glows so beautifully!

Katherine Kean said...

Kathryn, that makes perfect sense.

Thanks, Katherine. I know what you mean. Sometimes I think something's finished only to come back to it weeks later seeing more needs to be done.

Yelena Shabrova said...

It's done when there is nothing to add to it and altering what's already there is not an option. Or something like that.

Katherine Kean said...

Yelena, Yes, when "altering what is already there is not an option" is an important part of it.

Beth said...

Such a beautiful piece of art to go with your post. Sometimes I want to throw a piece out because it seems I can't fix it, but grinding through to the stage where there is nothing to fix seems right to me.
Great post. Thank you.

Katherine Kean said...

Thank you Beth I know - I often have the impulse to just start again, but then many of my favorites are the ones I've had to struggle with.

Jean Spitzer said...

Beautiful painting.

I try to stop when I can look at it without wanting to change something, when there is imperfection that I can live with.

Katherine Kean said...

Thank you Jean. That sounds like a good finishing point. I find that often those "imperfections" become more beautiful over time.

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