“How do you know when it’s finished?” is a question I’m often asked about my paintings.
The only answer I can think of is, “When it stops annoying me!”. That sounds silly but it isn’t meant to. It’s actually quite a difficult balance: doing all that you can without overworking the image. I do believe that we know when something “doesn’t look right”, even though it’s not immediately obvious what the problem might be. I’ve just repainted part of a painting I thought was finished purely because, when I looked at it later, I felt uncomfortable about that one small area. I once found myself leaning to the left as I looked at a painting, trying to compensate for a wrong angle in the image, even though I was finding it difficult to intellectualize where the problem lay. Sometimes body language beats any other language!
I’ve always enjoyed Ken Howard’s comment, that every artist needs two people in their life – one to inspire them and the other to take the painting away when it’s finished! But who really knows when something is finished, the artist or the viewer? I’d hate to have my work exhibited before I think it’s finished. Some years ago a viewer questioned my decision to keep working on a painting – she hadn’t noticed that one of the birds was missing a wing and none of them had eyes or feet!
Perhaps I’d better keep on making my own decisions on this subject!