And because of that, sometimes, I just keep changing the art more and more till at some point the painting I had been trying to finish is now so different that it has become an entirely new painting, And this new one has a whole new list of problems just as long as the previous one. So I wonder…am I getting anywhere? It doesn’t feel like it.
So how do you know when to stop? Surely it has to be different for everyone.
However, below, are some general guidelines I use. These keep me on course for actually occasionally finishing something, instead of always veering off in a new direction.
You might be almost finished when…
The Changes are becoming smaller and smaller.
This took me awhile to realize. In the beginning of making something, the choices are wide open. You art can be anything. As a result, the changes generally speaking tend to be bigger in scale. There is much work to be done in order to even halfway like it so the artist feels less inhibited at this early stage. But as the painting develops, and if you are leaving what you like and changing what you don’t, in time there becomes less and less to change. The changes overall become less. The further you go along, the more refined the adjustments become. This is a good indication you are perfecting something and that it is heading towards completion. Maybe consider stopping before drastically changing things, and return a bit later with more objectivity. You might realize you are closer to being done than you thought.
The Changes become so refined they might not be noticeably changing the art.
Sometimes when a painting is basically finished, there is a tendency to keep on making miniscule changes. When these become so small and insignificant that they actually don’t change the painting, then this a good time to stop. Possibly wait a day or two for objectivity to return and see it with fresh eyes. You probably are done but didn’t realize it.
You start to think about starting something new.
It is a good sign if your mind starts to wander a little while you are making the final adjustments to your art. It is only natural that you would start to crave the stages in art making that feel bold and dramatic while you are quietly, thoughtfully finishing. Creating something from nothing is an awesome feeling and never does it feel more apparent than in the very beginning stages of art making. Maybe take a hint from how you are feeing inside. Call this one painting done and start again with something new.
Each piece of art has something to teach us. Each offers a kernel of wisdom if we are paying attention. Completing this piece of art illuminates a little bit more of your creative path. Each piece of art you make moves you just a little bit forward.
Sometimes it is important to recognize this and just allow a painting to be completed. Just let it exist. Be thankful, and in return let it be done.