Patti Edmon Altered Attic: When is a Painting Finished?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

When is a Painting Finished?

I recently figured out that if I don't like a painting maybe it's just not finished! Brilliant observation after several years, but it made me wonder if other artists have consciously come to know that or if it's embarrassingly obvious...

The one constant in every piece of art I've created is layers. I love layers. I live to layer. So, it would seem that I would have already come to this conclusion. But I've spent considerable amounts of time working on a piece only to file it with the other shunned canvases. 

I don't know about y'all (ok, I grew up in Upstate New York but I've lived in Kentucky for a hundred years), but does this ring a bell? I mentioned it while in workshop with the fabulous and talented Wan Marsh (at Random Arts in late August) and she looked at me like I'd just informed her that the world is round. 
So, whether or not it's a no-brainer that fact changes the entire process, makes each step less 'brain surgery' and way more rewarding. It also tells that monkey in the mind to shut the hell up and let the process happen. 
I was so grateful I decided to share the 'history' of one of my favorite paintings. 

OK, not a bad start, I see potential...

Um... going anywhere? Like maybe to a better place?

Oh darn, this is looking busy and well, just crappy in general.

Started calming it down and looked for cohesion (any!) Knew it was time to paint over areas I liked but that just didn't work. And once I made peace (ok, let go of control!), I used my hand to cover elements and figure out which parts needed to go, and it wasn't long before the piece was finished. And I love it! 

I keep learning, processing, painting and living with thanks that so many lessons and insights present themselves - better late than never haha. Wan also had sage words about finishing "How do you know it's finished? When you start messing it up!" Brilliant!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject! 


Sharmon Davidson said...

Patti, I know where you're coming from. If a piece doesn't work, I try to be merciless in what I cover up or take out, even if I love that particular part of it. If it doesn't work with the rest of the piece, it goes! Sometimes I end up covering or re-working almost the entire piece. If I continue to be frustrated with it, I will often just put it aside for a while, and find that a solution may occur while I'm working on something else. Your painting has worked out really well in the end, and I enjoyed seeing all its "ugly duckling" steps in between. Brilliant! xox

Suzanne Brant said...

I would say that you know it's finished when every time you look at it, you're happy! I enjoyed looking at every stage of it & now know why you love layering so much!! Love to you, my dear friend!! ❤❤ Suzy


Excellent description/portrayal of process. The art truly is in knowing where to begin and where to stop and to keep on going in between . . . xoxoxo

Laura said...

I don't know how to answer that. I guess I usually stop a piece when it looks right. I have taken things too far before(overthinking) and ended up putting things in the to be gesso'd pile. (I have a lot in that pile.) I think they just speak to us and if we listen closely we'll know. :-)
love & blessings


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