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Friday, November 07, 2014

Permission to Stop

'Lupine Memories'            9x12           pastel            ©Karen Margulis
painting available $145
Don't finish it off! My friends and I laugh when we remind each other that we just need to finish the painting....not finish it off.  Overworking is the death of many a great painting. If only we stopped sooner. If only we stopped when it was looking so good...so fresh.

But no. That would be too easy. And besides how could we possibly be done? Isn't painting supposed to be a slow and gut wrenching process? If a painting comes together quickly can't we just accept that it is working and stop?  So often we don't stop. We keep plugging away...fixing something which leads to more fixing and more fixing and soon we have lost the freshness. Where did that painterly painting go?

Here is something to try for your next painting.

  • Have your phone or camera ready and snap a photo of the underpainting. As the painting evolves take a photo when you are feeling pretty good about the painting. These pictures will be a reminder of what the painting looked like when you liked it.....in case you finish it off!
  • Make a sign or note to put on your easel that says 'YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO STOP'
  • When you get to a point in your painting where you find yourself not sure what else to do...STOP. Get a drink or a piece of chocolate. Come back to the painting with fresh eyes. Evaluate what the painting needs.
  • Allow yourself to make a mark and then step back....all marks at this point should have a purpose....no random, mindless painting. This way you will finish the painting with careful thought and will hopefully come away with a much fresher painting!
painting notes: 9x12 uart with a watercolor underpaintings. I stopped sooner than I  usually do because I wanted to allow a lot of the watercolor to do the work. 

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Oh, this is so true! I'm getting better at it and beginning to accept that's my process.

That it's okay to think think think for hours or days, get ready to paint, let it soak in and wham scribble stroke sweep tap, okay, yeah it's done, no I didn't take that long at it. And don't want to do any more.

Most times if I get critique, I want to do that next time rather than make changes on a painting. Unless the suggested change really would be just a finishing touch, I've done that because someone else saw it. Leaving out sky holes can work that way, as an example. One time it was doing monochrome trees and I really needed violet and green into the orange ones to make them pop and did it months after the quick sketch.

But most times I remember that sort of thing during the painting and don't even always want to cover the paper completely. If it's dark especially, the specks of paper showing through can really add to it.