How do I know when my painting is finished?
That is a question I often ask myself. For me, the answer is when I can’t think of one more thing to add. Then STOP!
I’ve noticed that when I’ve taught a class, particularly a watercolor class, that sometimes the participants keep messing with their paintings until …well, they’re a mess. Stop! In the case of watercolors, leave some white space. Leave some space, period. When I’m working in oils, that is a little more difficult but I always try to avoid the overworked look. With oils, I stand back and just LOOK. It seems the closer I get to the final product, the more time I spend looking. Sometimes it is even best to put it away for a while. That advice is often offered to young artists but it’s true. Sometimes after you’ve come back to your work with a few weeks off, the errors will jump out at you. Other times, you’ll realize that you’ve nailed it.
I ask myself, what am I aiming for? What is my message? Despite painting in a realistic style most of the time, I am not aiming for anything approaching photo realism. If you want it to look like a photo, then take a damn picture! I’m looking for the message. What struck me most about this subject? What am I really trying to convey? When is enough enough?
This is a close-up view of a painting that I’m working on right now entitled Wolf Eyes. I’m just about at the point where…there’s nothing left to add. Time to set it aside for a while. I’ll put it on my website when do finish it. The message that I’m shooting for is the young man in his prime, he is oozing with virility and he knows it. Wolf Eyes.