Deciding it’s finished

It can be hard to know when to stop.

It’s a little easier when painting an object, person or landscape. But when painting an intuitive abstract piece that relies heavily on process and feeling, it never seems done. My recent art work, Fractured Craftsman, had so many moments when it was “finished.” And so many times I said… “just a little more…” then I totally screed it up and started over. Or I loved it but felt like it wasn’t … wasn’t something…

Killing our darlings, this is a an issue that all artist deal with. It’s when you’ve made a mark or a section of your painting that you love, and you try to work around it and keep it precious. But then you realize you must be willing to let go of these things to find what the painting wants to be, and not to enforce your will upon it. It’s a lot like parenting. you need to enforce some rules, try to guide and control. But in the end, you hope that you added enough good stuff that it becomes it’s own beautiful…whatever, on it’s own.

Giving up that control, in parenting, in painting or in most things is not that easy for me. But I work on it each day a little.


Now, back to this painting, Fractured Craftsman, I started this one months ago. It’s painted on a 24×30″ canvas board. I started with a graphite stick and some pencils and paint sticks. I them moved into a clear layer of cold wax. Then the fun starts. I really thought this was going to be a wooded, abstract landscape. I worked at pulling greens and browns all over the canvas and it just never came together. As it dried, I made some stencils of shapes related to the area I was interested in, but again and again it came up less that exciting… I finally realized, I needed to “kill my darlings.” I started masking off areas and building up paint layers. marking cutting and scrapping.

At some point I need space to work on other art, so I leaned it against the wall. As the wax hardened and sat there looking at me, I realized that it was finished. The name had been coming to me through the process. I’ll leave it up to you to find meaning in the name as it relates to the finished art.


p.s. my wife thinks this one is upside down, she’d probably right.