I felt it was only right to write a blog about how to finish a painting since I’d already written one on how to start one. The last mile, the final push, the end of a (very) long road to achieving a coherent and well balanced picture. I find that as I inch ever closer to the end that I have to be decisive as well as fairly brutal as to what’s working and what’s not.
Its easy to make slight adjustments, adding a pop of colour here, tightening up the details in the foreground, adding another tone of colour to make the scene work better. What happens when its bigger than that though. A section that needs to come out and be re-painted. I know how this feels. No matter how much it adds to the picture as a whole, it bugs me and bugs me until I feel its staring at me, goading me to dare take it out. If your painting starts talking to you (‘aka’ going delirious and coming out in cold sweats) then you know you have to do something about it!
I reworked this particular section several times (this photograph is the area I’m talking about) before deciding that it just had to go. Finite. Final. The End. It wasn’t working. But now I would need to actually pick up the brush, grab the white paint and paint over it, then blend and rework in the colours I’d used in the rest of the brickwork. Plus I’d need to re-do all the oil pastel work and ink marks I’d made too. All this in the hope that it would finally work as a whole painting… luckily it did and the offending area is now in the distant past. It didn’t actually take me too long to do it either as I remembered all the different steps (colours, materials, textures) to blend it in. If you tend to forget your process and the techniques or colours you’ve used then I highly recommend writing it down.
At the beginning of ‘The End’ I made a complete list of all of the areas that I felt still needed work or slight adjustment. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be totally happy with the ‘finished’ result of my paintings but I do know that once you’ve felt like there’s nothing more you can do or else ruin it, its best to put down the paintbrush. I’ve had one too many paintings that I’ve over-worked and the fresh, magical qualities it initially imbued have gone down the toilet… and its a really sad thing to see myself do. I literally know when I’m going over and over and over the same area again (‘aka’ going delirious again), and its definitely time to stop.
Please take note that your art may flourish from reading this blog 🙂