A perfect painting can be wrecked in seconds.
Knowing when to stop painting is a dilemma. If you’ve created anything from scratch you’ll know that you can be progressing well with a creation. Everything is working out well until..
You do a little bit too much, then panic sets in. You try and salvage the situation but your efforts just makes it worse.
Next to actually starting, knowing when to stop is the single most important stage in the creative process.
Which is why it’s important to know when to stop painting
Personally I tend to err on the side of under-painting, and this can work well but some paintings, like my one of Admiralty Arch took a bit longer to get there.
I started with this
Yes, this is probably too soon to stop but there are times when I wish I could.
Just look at the masking up close. There is a beauty in it.
Why don’t I stop here then?
Well I know that whilst it looks pretty now the masking will turn a revolting brown colour and loose its freshness. So I add a bit of colour and I fall in love with the blooms and textures that occur early on.
Should I stop painting here?
Well, the answer is that I could, probably, but to my mind it’s lacking.
So I paint a bit more…
And then a bit more…
Until I’m left with something like this and I wonder if this is it?
So what do I do? Well, I just walk away!
There’s nothing like a bit of mental distance from a painting to help decide if it’s finished or not. When you work on a piece for any length of time you get too close to the subject and don’t see what’s wrong or unfinished. Better to leave it and little longer than start removing the masking fluid and realising that you need to re-mask because you’ve missed a bit. Or worse still
Use white Paint!
Heaven forbid, I’m getting palpitations just thinking about it. I like my white lines to be the paper not ink.
Yes, I did tweak some more and after cleaning up I ended with this.
So what about you?
How do you decide when to stop? Let me know in the comments.