Wednesday, April 27

When to Stop Re-Working Your Painting

Walking on Terrazzo
Acrylic on Paper
Copyright 2011
If you’re a painter, then you will know what I’m talking about.

And what am I talking about? I’m talking about working and re-reworking your painting, and when does it become too much re-working, and how do you know when it’s too much re-working, and how do you stop re-working it. Or maybe you never have this situation, and you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I do have this situation on occasion. Recently, I was in this situation again. For me, it’s difficult to tell when I’m re-working a painting too much, and I don’t really realize it.

There comes a time in every one of my paintings when I get totally bored with the whole thing. That seems to be when the painting is just about complete, or what most people would think is complete. For one of my paintings, that’s usually somewhere near the end of the second week or into the third week of working on it.

I can and do paint faster than that, but not always, and I usually work on more than one painting at a time. Not that I measure the quality of my work by how long I’ve worked on it, but I seem to notice how long I’ve been working/re-working on it by the third week or at least about then.

I think, “How long have I been working on this thing—when did I start it—seems like a month ago?” The boredom has set it.

That’s my first clue. My second clue is when I suddenly notice that I am changing things in the painting back to the way I had first painted it. Wasn’t there a darker shadow here? Wasn’t the value of that much lighter? That blue looks way bluer than when I first started this, and now I'm painting it back to the original blue. These are the tell-tale signs.

On the painting in today’s image, I counted, and I painted that ceiling four times. First it was too dark, then it was too yellow-gray, then it was too violet. Finally I darkened just the part closest to the viewer to provide depth.

That's when I realized I was re-working it way too much. I immediately stopped, and put my paint brush down, and never looked back.

When you’re in this situation, you should do that, too.

Happy Painting!

1 comment:

  1. I have recently been struggling with a painting I may have reworked so much that I ruined the whole thing. Its rather sad because most of the painting is lovely but I killed a two inch section and I doubt I can recover it.

    An artist definitely has to watch herself/himself if they have that propensity.