I usually know if a painting is finished. Something in my gut tells me there’s nothing more to do and we’ve reached completion. If I’m unclear, I ask myself this question: “Am I futzing or finessing?” The answer will lead me to my next step. Futzing equals done! Finessing means I have to make a few tweaks. I can see some thing(s) that just doesn’t look right. Yet, I might not know how to “fix” it. What tweaks should I make? That’s when I put it away and revisit the painting at a later time.
It may take a few days or weeks (on rare occasions, years!) before I feel ready to look at a painting with fresh eyes. I need time to mull it over. When I do revisit the painting, what I may not have seen initially becomes much clearer. Or I find an answer to my question about how to fix a visual problem. It’s one of those “aha” moments of certainty that guides me.
Thinking the Painting is Done
This past summer, Peggy told me about a beautiful spot at Mount Auburn Cemetery where azaleas overlook Auburn Lake. It’s a vantage point I hadn’t noticed before, like a hidden jewel. I got started in mid-morning and, after a couple of hours, was satisfied that the painting was done. I was also sufficiently over-heated by the day’s sun and humidity, so I packed up and headed home.
Revisiting the Painting
I looked at the painting the following week and I wasn’t as happy with it as I initially thought. The trunk of the tree was very dominant, even though it sat in the background. Unbelievable that I didn’t see this earlier! I wanted the azaleas in the foreground to be the focal point, yet the trunk competed with them.
I added leaves to the tree in order to subdue the trunk. This adjustment helped push the trunk into the background. Now, the azaleas are the stars of the piece. And I’m calling it “done”, again.