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"Is it Finished?" is the Wrong Question to Ask

By November 30, 2012

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Finishing a painting

The concept of learning to know what questions to ask about your art, in order to develop it, is one of the many things resonating in my head from Patrick Oates, the tutor at the residential life-drawing workshop I was on last week at Higham Hall. Fast forward to this morning as I'm reading Jerry Fresia's latest blog in which he writes "Picasso argued that the concept 'finish' is an inappropriate category in determining when we stop painting".

If, instead of asking ourselves how long it should take to finish a painting or is it finished yet, we agree that a painting may never be "finished", what would we ask instead? Questions that come to mind include:

  • Do I want to continue or explore the subject further in another painting?
  • What else do I still want to do to it? What if I...?
  • Is there sufficient tonal variation? (Often a brighter highlight or darker shadow adds so much!)
  • Is it sufficiently interesting to look at? Is there a focal point?
  • Does it tell a story? (A narrative, a metaphor, the tale of its creation in the mark making?) Does it tell enough/too much?


November 30, 2012 at 7:58 am
(1) Yover says:

This article is for me fundamental:it easely enables to free the mind and creativity of the artists.The series of questions could be “The Credo” of all contemporary painters. In any case now, It’s mine .

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