Archive for February 2nd, 2009

Outside the BeltwayI had a question come up yesterday, a question that has been raised before and one that I have answered more than once with much difficulty.  The interesting thing is that because of the nature of what it deals with the answer is always shifting a little.

The question came from a viewer who asked how I determine when a painting is complete.  How do I say that enough is enough and step away from the painting?

There is no clear and specific answer for this because it all depends on an intuitive sense  of rightness in the piece, something I’ve mentioned in past posts.  There are parts of the eye and brain that are constantly measuring the piece as I work it, weighing the various aspects of the elements that make up the painting.  Color and harmony of color.  Depth into the piece.  Balance in the various compositional elements.  

There must be a unique sense of being and  place, all within the bounds of logic.  My mind must not question the viability of what I see before me.  

Many of the things I’m taking in are almost intangible but a certain tipping point is inevitably reached where any more paint, any more strokes, would not add anything to the piece and may in fact take away from the painting and it’s freshness , edge and logic.

I am looking, at this point, for the piece to have it’s own life force, it’s own momentum that goes beyond what I know is my own contribution to the painting.  In other words, the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts. 

Now sometimes this feeling is misguided or plain wrong and after a time, needed additions to the piece become apparent.  Occasionally a piece will come back to the studio after touring the galleries and I will spend some time with it only to see a deficiency that had eluded my eye earlier.  It’s interesting how a small, seemingly unimportant, tweak to a piece can change it’s entire impact.  

To minimize this, I am always looking at work as I complete it, trying to determine if I have reached this desired level or rightness.

It’s an ongoing thing, one that is always shifting a bit and changing.  Like most people…

The painting above is a new piece and is called Outside the Beltway and is in the Red Roof series.  I’m spending some time with it in the studio.

 So far, it’s measuring up.

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