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Thursday, May 26, 2016

An Easy Tip for Finishing a Painting

'Evening Sanctuary'       10 x 10       pastel         ©Karen Margulis
I thought I was finished. A painting is never really finished though. Leonardo DaVinci said so.  

"Art is never finished...only abandoned" 

But we must abandon it at some point and call it done. It is one of the most difficult things to do. How do we know if we are finished? Some say we are finished when there is nothing more to say. I usually follow this idea. When I no longer know why I am making marks ... I stop.  I always try to stop before I go too far because it is easier to make small adjustments if needed.  It is more challenging to rescue an overworked painting.

The best way to finish a painting is to take a second look with fresh eyes to see what adjustments (if any) are needed. It is often recommended that we work on more than one painting at a time so we can come back to a painting with fresh eyes. Or let a painting sit for several days or more.  I have an easy tip if you need fresh eyes but don't have the luxury of time. TAKE A PHOTO. 

Before the change....the trees were not dark enough

You may do this already but I recommend taking a quick photo of your painting when you think you might be done. Use your phone's camera to make it simple. Looking back at your painting on a screen can show you areas that need adjustments. It gives you another point of view. It allows you to view the painting as an outsider.

Today's painting benefited from a photo review. I had finished the painting and uploaded the photo to my blog. As I looked at it on the monitor something jumped out at me. It was something I didn't notice before but now it was screaming at me. I had painted the distant trees a little too light and I didn't like the violet mark at the top of the big tree. Little details but something I could easily adjust. 

Consider taking a photo break when you are not sure what else to do in your painting. You might just discover that you are finished!

Oil stain underpainting on Uart 400 sanded paper

close-up detail


Anonymous said...

Your tips are so right on. I also use an old precut mat to lay on the painting even if I'm not going to mat it. The mat limits my eye movements from wandering and I can focus better on the painting. As you say, taking a photo makes flaws pop out. Thanks for your blog. It is so helpful.

Kathy Young said...

Beautiful work. Is this piece available?

Karen said...

Thank you Kathy! This painting has been sold. Thanks for asking!