Friday, August 16, 2013

When is a painting finished?

This question has plagued artists for centuries.
It is the culmination of questions such as:
Is there too much detail?
Is there too little detail?
Is it too dark or too light?
Does the hue reflect the mood?
And you could probably add a dozen more questions.

I "finished" this painting and signed it.

The next morning, the thin background tree was bothering me. So, I took it out. The more I looked at the piece, the more the background bothered me. I made the mountain more purple-y from its brighter blue and painted in a lot of trees. Finished. Hmm. Still not right.

OK, time for some drastic modification. I grabbed my palette knife (which I only use to mix paint) and scraped off a large section of background. I thought moving the horizon line down would add focus to the cat. Painting in more sky, I also softened the mountain/sky intersection.

Now to the rest of the background. I had originally painted in some light greens which while pretty, did nothing for my new plan. Out they came. A lot of dabbling in the background, trying various colors. Every few minutes I would step back to look at the piece. My mind was starting to fill in background objects from slight hints of shapes. Yes, this is the right direction. I continued to play with colors and textures until I was "finished."

It can be a little scary to scrape off a thoughtfully painted section, but I have learned to not fall in love with my own brushstrokes. The end result is what I am after and if that means altering my carefully developed plan and working by intuition, the palette knife is there to help.

12" X 9"
Original Oil


hmuxo said...

OMGosh, Linda. This is amazing!
This is definitely one of my favorites...!!!! Gorgeous piece!!!

Linda Besse said...

Oh, thanks so much for your comment. It is encouraging to receive praise when I changed it so much from my original concept.