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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

When Are We Finished with a Painting?

'Looking for Fairies'            8x10        pastel on board        ©Karen Margulis
available $150
When is a painting finished? It is the big question next to how to begin! Finishing is tough. Leonard DaVinci said "Art is never finished, only abandoned". But how do we know when it is OK to abandon it? I was taught that a painting is finished when there is nothing more to say. That is good advice but even that can be hard to determine.  Sometimes we think we are finished and when we return to a painting after awhile we see things that we didn't have the experience to see earlier. Take todays painting.

I abandoned this painting at least 10 years ago. I thought it was finished. I didn't know what else it needed so I stopped. I was fairly pleased with it at the time. It went into my storage box filed under Southeastern landscapes.

Before clarifying the important areas
Recently I came across the painting while searching through the box. I pulled it out because it was done an a piece of Ampersand Pastelbord. I thought I could repurpose the board. I love Pastelbord for this reason. Since it is a hard masonite board it is easy to wash off or do a wet underpainting. It is easy to reuse them. 

But when I taped the board up at my easel I decided that I actually liked the painting even though it was an earlier work. BUT time and experience give me new insight and I could see what the painting needed to be stronger. It was a busy painting with a lot of marks and a lot going on but that didn't bother me so much. I wanted to capture the complexity of the forest interior.  The painting just needed some focus and clarity. It seemed kind of  busy and fuzzy all over.

Follow the arrows to see where I added clarity
All I needed to do was to create a visual pathway through the busy forest. I needed to give my viewers  some way to read the painting. I needed to show them around the forest. I needed to add clarity to the places where I wanted the eye to go. This was completed by using contrast. I used contrast of color intensity, contrast of value , contrast of edges.  Look at the painting in the photo above. Can you find those areas near the arrows where I made changes to the original painting? You can scroll up to see the original. 

TRY THIS: Take out an OLDER painting that you abandoned. (thought you were finished) Can you see a visual pathway? Are there areas that you can clarify? Are there areas that could be simplified? See how much you have grown as an artist!

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