Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How Long Will It Take and When Will It be Finished?

Most events have an expected time frame from start to finish. Two hours for a concert, an hour to bake a cake, and three hours to fly to Chicago from Phoenix all seem about right.
We’ve heard the line “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, but how long did it take?  This question is not so much about how long as the inherent thought, good things take time.

So in the subjective world of art, when is a painting finished? How does the artist know after a myriad of brushstrokes when the last one has been applied? Depending on the artist’s style and technique, from the initial block in to some spot along the path to completion, the painting is finished when the artist has nothing more to “say” in paint.

When asked, “How do you know when the painting is done?” my art school painting instructor answered, “The painting is finished when the telephone rings.” The class laughed and thought it was one of his frequent riddles.  I asked what he meant.  He replied, “If a painting represents your thought, when you have said what you want to say, it is done at that moment.”

I still didn’t understand.  Then I got it. An artist needs to decide to what extent he wishes to develop a painting.  Will it remain a loose impressionistic piece or a highly developed photo realistic rendering?  Any stop along the way could be considered its final destination depending on the artist’s vision. The artist is the CEO of his painting and must make that call.

So start some paintings and focus in on when to “wrap” them.  It could be when the telephone rings, or the dog barks or when you feel no more strokes are required. And the more painting starts you make, your art will ultimately project your own unique style and connect with collectors who will “hear” your very recognizable voice.