Saturday, May 5

Know When to Stop Painting

Happy Cinco de Mayo
 to my friends of Mexico
(Copyright 2008)
I have re-discovered something about watercolor painting that I had somehow forgotten, and I bet you have, too, at least occasionally.

That is, when to STOP PAINTING.

I know this. I have read and studied some of the finest contemporary watercolorists, and they all say the same thing, “Know when to stop.”

It is counter-intuitive to being a painter. A painter paints. He or she does not stop.

But it’s true. Knowing when to stop painting on your work is just as important as all the other aspects of good work—drawing, composition, value, harmony, etc.

I don’t know why, but we forget as we paint. We go into a trance of sorts that prevents us from stopping.

One great watercolorist says to listen to that inner voice that says, “You’re starting to fiddle too much with details; it’s time to stop.” Rare is the painting, especially the more loose and impressionistic it is, that benefits from more work after some point.

And that’s the hard part—knowing when you have reached that point. I can’t explain it, and probably no painter can. You just have to know when.

The tru-ism goes something like this: All ruined paintings are preceded by the phrase, “I’ll just fix this.”

So stop it!

Keep On Painting

1 comment:

  1. The same goes for oil. One can really spoil a painting if you do not stop at the right moment.