When is a painting finished?

I am often asked the question – When is a painting finished?   

This quote from Jidda Krishnamurti is my jumping off point for thoughts on this subject.

‘There is no end to education.   It is not that you read a book,  pass an examination and finish education.    The whole of life,  from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.’

The piano – rapid watercolour/gouacheOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEach painting we work on (including preliminary sketches and warm up exercises) is connected to all the work we have produced in the past and any work we will produce in the future…….Everything is interconnected.

Unlike many jobs where there is a clear beginning, middle and finish – a painting can take minutes, hours or years to complete…….and even when the painting is not being worked on – the seed of it’s idea is still sprouting information, even if at a subliminal level.

I painted a ground over an old watercolour to make this image…A great way to recycle old paintings that haven’t worked.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomething to consider is that striving for perfection can sometimes cripple the creative process.

As artists we seek to attain technical prowess, however it’s important to remember that warming up,  playfulness and risk taking are all part of the exploration and creative processOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlways try to work on more than one image at a time.     This can prevent overworking the painting and producing mud, particularly when working with watercolour!

When the question is asked – ‘where do I go next with this painting?’  It is time to stop.   Move onto the next painting and  invariably at a later date the answer will be revealed to your initial question.     Paintings communicate with us if we allow enough space and time…….            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  When working on canvases….it is customary to turn paintings to the wall – sometimes for long periods.     This helps an artist to see the painting in a fresh light at a later date.    Any work produced in the interim feeds the artist with new information, which is often relevant to the original piece.          OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARegardless of the end goal…rapid sketches in any medium, along with honing observational skills help an artist to focus the mind.

Many years ago, I gave a workshop in Wales where a group of us walked the Brecon/ Monmouthshire Canal for one day.      Every fifteen minutes we stopped and sketched for fifteen minutes.….Initially, this was daunting to some of the participants….however, by the end of the day…people were producing quick sketches, filled with information.

The point of this story is that sketches had to be finished within fifteen minutes – which again was an excellent way of focusing the mind and also removing the desire to achieve the ‘perfect’ sketch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we focus on the journey and not the destination – we are freed from restraints which might otherwise interfere with the creative flow.   The joy and learning will be  found in the doing, and answers will be revealed in their own good time.

Magical hummingbirds, of course completely understand this concept:)   Have a beautiful weekend.

watercolour

P1130684

 

59 thoughts on “When is a painting finished?

  1. olganm

    Excellent post and advice and true of many (most) creative endeavours. For sure it’s the same with a book. It’s never going to be ‘perfect’ and anyway, what we might think is perfect today, we might find to be lacking a few days later (and the opposite is true too. Sometimes we abandon something only to go back to it months or years later and find it’s as complete as it should be. I read years back an anecdote about David Mamet. He sent the play ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ to Harold Pinter, whom he admired enormously, and told him ‘there’s something not quite right with it, but I don’t know what’. Pinter replied that the only thing wrong with it was that it wasn’t being produced and performed in a theatre and asked to direct it himself. And so it happened. As it went on to win many awards and to become one of the author’s best known plays, I guess Pinter was right). 🙂

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you, Olga for this really superb comment. I love the story about David Marmet and Harold Pinter. All these same principles apply to the creative process in all its many forms. I often remind myself that to wait for the perfect time to do anything is a mistake….as there is rarely the perfect time…:) Hope you enjoy a lovely weekend. Janet. x

      Reply
  2. Bushka

    Superb post…as always stunningly illustrated……Yes! I guess I knew the answer even before starting to read the post….True Art is ever finished….always a work in process….Look at Nature! 😉 Hugs! ❤

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Bushka, and thank you for this comment. Yes indeed – all we need to do is observe Nature….all the answers are there. Hope you enjoy a lovely weekend. Janet. xx

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Miza – thank you so much for your comment. Think of you a great deal and hope that all is well….Will you be going to Portugal this year? Hopefully we will connect somewhere…Janet. xx

      Reply
      1. mizatavares

        All is well, as well as it can be Janet, thank you. 🙂 Yes, I will in Portugal end of April and in November. Yes, we must see each other sometime. xx

  3. teagan geneviene

    Dear Janet, particularly eloquent posts like this one make me say “I can’t wait for your autobiography!”
    I enjoyed your thoughts (as well as the variations/progress of the painting). I feel much the same way about writing novels. Bits of stories I’ve written in the past (even the “lost manuscripts” that got accidentally thrown away after a move across the country; stories 10 and 20 years ago). wiggle into my mind with thoughts of how they might be tweaked or the characters enhanced. Thanks for this lovely morning break. Mega hugs!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Teagan….Your comment is perfect and illustrates perfectly what the creative process is about. I am endeavouring to use all the tools mentioned in my post in the writing of my autobiography. At this point in time, I am observing the big picture…..jotting notes whenever a thought comes to mind…..and slowly but surely a form is appearing, much like a painting.
      Thank you so much for your lovely compliment…it means a great deal and spurs me on:) Have a lovely and creative weekend surrounded with hummingbirds. Janet. xxx

      Reply
  4. Jet Eliot

    Oh how I enjoyed your wisdom and articulation in this post, dear Janet. I so admire your fluidity in your watercolors. You really walk your talk, and I really enjoyed your talk here. I’ve been revising a particularly tricky scene in my novel this week. And your post just lifted about 50 pounds off my shoulders, so off I go…. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Jet…your comment put a big smile on my face. I am so pleased that my post lifted a weight from your creative shoulders. I can’t wait to read your novel……Meanwhile, have a beautiful weekend, and let the creative juices flow naturally, in the same way that Mother Nature demonstrates to us:) Janet….

      Reply
      1. Jet Eliot

        Yest. was a great writing day, Janet, a real breakthrough. I used a technique I’ve never used before, and I know it was because of your post. whew, how very wonderful. Thank you!

  5. Jayanthi

    Thank you Janet – very wise words and I think I have understood a bit more about what we do – still a long way to go for me!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Jayanthi…you have come so far…and you will continue to grow with your art. I am always so excited to see what you are doing and what you have achieved…..have a lovely weekend and it wont be long before we are talking all things creative in Portugal. Janet. x

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I am responding in English and think I have the gist of your comment….thank you so much for reading my post and for your words. Much appreciated. Have a lovely weekend. Janet:)

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning…this did make me smile….you are so right when a painting sells, that’s it – no more fiddling. The perfect remedy:) Have a lovely weekend – and I am quite sure that the hummingbirds will be with you soon in your neck of the woods….Janet.:)

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Carol. I have observed very talented creatives who have been totally crippled because of their need for perfection! Something I have learned, is that there is never a perfect time to do anything, and if we wait for it…..nothing happens:) My rapid watercolours help me enormously with this issue…..as I said in the post…they focus my mind…
      Hope you have a lovely weekend and that your writing flows. janet. xx

      Reply
  6. snowbird

    I just love that piano, and the magical little hummer! Great advice again, I love to work on several paintings at once, and what a great idea to turn a painting to the wall, that’s a great way to stop finding fault or fiddling. I also love the idea of focussing upon the journey, not just the destination.xxx

    Reply
  7. janetweightreed10 Post author

    Good morning Dina…thanks for this comment, and do hope you are in a creative flow after your amazing trip and enjoying the weekend…I sense that milder weather might be on the way:):)xxx

    Reply
      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Hope you enjoy a lovely weekend. When I go to Crickhowell in May, I will take lots of new photographs and share….it’s definitely a place worth visiting. Janet:)

  8. Paul J. Stam

    Loved this. I too work on more than one thing at a time whether writing, doing ceramics or painting. And, thank you so much for letting me know you liked excerpt 13 of Murder Set Sail. – Thanks again and Aloha – pjs/

    Reply
  9. inesephoto

    Thank you for the very timely wisdom, Janet! I needed that lesson about 15-minute sketch.
    Your jewels of hummingbirds always put a smile on my face 🙂
    Thank you again!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning and thank you so much for this lovely comment. Hope you enjoy a creative weekend. I was giving a workshop yesterday and talking about ‘focusing the mind’ and how the 15 minute sketch does help:) Janet.

      Reply
      1. inesephoto

        Your ’15 minutes’ rule goes for everything. If I am not able to focus and mobilize myself in 15 minutes, I will keep wasting my time 🙂

  10. phoartetry

    Thank you Janet for this blog. I’m looking to change my style of painting and drawing. Your advice will help me remember to loosen up my strokes,

    Connie

    Reply

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