Although most paintings come to a natural conclusion, we all ask ourselves "is my painting finished yet?"
I have heard it said that "Your painting is finished before you have" meaning we should stop painting, stop fiddling!!
Further, by spending more time planning your painting and drawing "finished" value studies and sketches and then painting to those sketches and plans, you will find that "finishing" just seems to happen - your works will come to a natural conclusion.
On occasion, however, there will still be a work that takes longer to complete; it is 99.9% done but what is that final stroke? How do I decide if my work is finished?
Remember, sometimes we need time to make all these decisions, your painting does not have to be finished right now!
These are some of the questions I ask myself when I am hedging around:
Unity: does the artwork looked unified? In other words, does every element link to every other element in the painting? For example an orange pumpkin may not work in a painting with a car as the main subject. But it might if the car was parked in a pumpkin field. Does the artwork seem complete? is there anything that jumps out at it you?
Contrast: is there enough contrast? Is the darkest dark placed next to the lightest light in the focal area? What other contrasts are relevant to this piece of art? are there enough soft edges? are there enough hard edges in the focal area?
Dominance: is there one shape, mark or colour that is dominant over all the others? What additional shapes, marks or colours are required to reinforce the dominance?
Repetition: are there any colours, shapes or marks that seem isolated? Where could they be repeated to provide greater balance?
Harmony: does the artwork have a sense of harmony? Linked to unity, harmony provides a sense of equilibrium. For example harmony can be achieved by using a limited palette. is the style of all the marks and shapes similar? Eg, is there a shape that is painted based on your sense of realism but the rest of painting includes mostly abstracted shapes? Ie, do all your shapes have similar attributes?
Balance: is there good use of BIG, medium and small. Does the overall composition design work well? Are all opposing forces balanced? does it feel balanced? does your eye keep moving to a spot of nothing in the painting and then stop?
Gradation: a sequence of blending from one extreme to another providing harmony and contrast. For example, the sequence of steps between the lightest light and the darkest dark is as important as the juxtaposition of contrasts.
If that last wee gem is not answering itself quickly enough or your eye doesn’t pull directly to your focal point, put the painting away for a couple of weeks and then cast fresh eyes over it - the answer will very likely present itself to you. Sometimes, I leave a work in my studio or living room so i can see it as I'm moving about and seeing the same issue over and over again!!
do feel free to comment or ask a question!
It’s great to be back in Lucca where there’s a painting on every corner and more! Hence I’ve been choosing colazione caffe’s for sketching out opportunities.
Yesterday’s sketch afforded me 2 discoveries for this subject, both based on chiaroscuro, a chequerboard if you like. Aka alternation = light/dark, light/dark, light/dark. Given that some of the dark might be not so dark and some of the light might not be so light – in other words, a full range of values is required – every shape should have a different value to it’s neighbour – this difference might only be a 1% variation.
So what were the 2 gems I discovered?
Even though the sketch and the painting will be contrejour, I will be able to use similar values to tell my story. Values make the impact, colour is just cosmetics.
Something more to think about, these shapes did not conveniently place themselves correctly for me, I made them happen, as I was sketching these wee ideas presented themselves to me so I pushed them into my painting concept – I’m the artist!!
non ferma cari amici!!
PaintBox Tips, secrets, random thoughts,
Poetry in watercolour is made in the freedom of the here and now. Amanda Brett
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working - Pablo Picasso
There are no mistakes in watercolour, just some extra surprises!!
What my readers and viewers have to say
Your emails are so informative! I must confess I've watched a couple of your demos from beginning to end, and it makes me want to watercolor!!! I've only ever painted with oil or acrylics and haven't know how to begin with WC. Your content is excellent!
Thank you for your tips. They inspired me to practise and I realised I haven’t been loading the brush properly. I learnt about adding more paint, and not water, to washes. In today’s tips I like the idea of painting with purpose. Your tips are very helpful. I very much appreciate receiving them. Elizabeth
Hi Amanda I enjoyed your post and generous tips. Looked up Dan Burt I begin to see that you can colour any subject to give it pizazz so long as the tone and form is correct Certainly adding value now to my attempts Thanks heaps Annie
Yes very wise words. Agree with not fussing and agree with comments about good quality paint. Well written and inspirational as always. Cheers Janet xxxx
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