Typically when something has a title with a question mark, the answer is no. So finished with what? Finished with the blog? It certainly looked that way since I haven’t written anything since 2016. I am not a particularly prolific writer, and only when I started preparing for a show did it occur to me that I ought to give my website a bit of attention, so I uploaded a few of the paintings I did over the past year or so and now I’m typing a post as well. I’ll start by talking about one of my older paintings.
On my way to a painting session, I had found this fairly sizable Masonite board, and since I’d been wanting to try painting something larger, I took it with me. I had time for an oil sketch, so that’s what I did. I could have worked on it some more in my studio, but the model was no longer available, and I didn’t have the feeling that working without her would make the picture any better, so I left it as it was.
When I look at the painting now, it makes me ask: When is a painting finished? When is it time to stop working on it and say that it’s done?
This is a tricky question. While it seems primarily an emotional decision, it is also informed by sometimes conflicting criteria. For example, I like it when the parts of a painting have some unifying elements: the colors and shapes work with each other, there is some consistency in the handling of the parts. This painting doesn’t feel cohesive. The four elements, the figure, the chair, the floor and the background are all handled differently. The brushstrokes, the colors, the blending, the extent of definition are each applied separately. And yet, I decided it was finished and signed it.
Why did I do so? I think it is because it was more important for me to take what I had learned from the painting and to move on than to keep working on it. While it doesn’t really work as a painting, partially because both the composition and the theme are rather simplistic , I do like it as a color sketch, and I don’t mind sharing it. I left this painting with a clearer sense of where I wanted my painting to go, and that is quite valuable. In this case, it is finished because it served its purpose. Next time, I’ll show a painting that is finished because it is more artistically complete.
- movin' on (no regrets) Daniel Goldman 3:23