Research Assessment #10
Date: March 3, 2017
Subject: Finishing a Painting
"When Is a Painting Finished?" American Decades Primary Sources, edited by Cynthia Rose, vol. 9: 1980-1989, Gale, 2004, pp. 36-41. Gale Virtual Reference Library,
Assessment: Research Assessment #10
Whenever I paint something there always comes a point where I feel the painting is “finished”. I feel that way not because the painting is complete, but because I cannot paint it any longer. A painting eventually loses the allure it once had and it becomes dry. However, usually I am painting for school, and by the time I grow sick of a painting I still have a week or so to paint it. At that point the painting loses its value to me. I continue painting because I have to and not because I want to.
Nevertheless, there are rare cases when the deadline comes before the allure of the painting is gone. It has happened before and it is happening again. Painting one hundred paintings in ten days forces me to leave paintings “unfinished” in order to “complete” the whole piece. It is an uncomfortable feeling. I want to keep painting, but I simply have to move on. This feeling led me to research how other artists decide when to finish a painting.
The article I found introduced me to various philosophies of painting and it taught me about how I should go about “finishing” a painting. For instance, I learned sometimes I need to move on in spite of my feelings. It allows me to think on what to improve and how to do so. In a way, letting go frees me to pursue other aspects of art, and it allows me to continue developing my skills as an artist. I can always change something later. The hiatus also allows me to reflect on a painting; if something needs to be changed, I will be bothered to do so even after putting a painting down.
This information is valuable in the sense that it helps me feel more confident in moving when painting the one hundred paintings. This, undoubtedly, greatly benefits my final product because it will give me confidence. The purpose of painting one hundred paintings is to see if I have what it takes to become a painter; by embracing that I can better create those paintings because the focus will be on developing myself, not to make a perfect painting.
Before this point my idea of a finished painting was one worked on for many hours with much deliberate thought, and I still believe so. Now, however, I also believe a painting made in a spontaneous flash of inspiration can also be considered a “finished” painting. What I have realized that a painting is finished when a painter has exhausted his passion, or rather, obsession for it. I now know that when painting I should focus on how to express my passion for what I am doing. I cannot paint for the sake of painting; that is not what painters stand for.
I plan to apply this way of thinking to my final product. For one, any paintings I create from now on will be made with an emphasis on something I am passionate about and my documentary will include my thoughts about why my paintings express my passion and my exploration of painting. I will not only discuss the process of painting, but also my motivations, feelings, and goals when painting. I believe that will enhance my documentary greatly by giving it more depth. Most of all, I feel encouraged. Knowing that to create well made art I need to focus on my passions gives me comfort. If I choose to follow this career I will not be painting to sell artwork, but for my own reasons. This also allows me to focus on honing my skills as a painter instead of making a “perfect painting”. I feel encouraged to be more flexible in how I paint; focusing on myself and my emotions instead of the paintings themselves motivates me to embrace improvement.
I am unsure if I will ever paint like this again, but I will definitely continue painting in series. Doing so will allow me to emphasise on my passions, which I plan to also do either way. Only one question arises: is painting in this way truly profitable? If I am only painting whenever I feel passionate, then will I ever showcase any artwork. Maybe showcasing artwork I am satisfied is enough, but I am not sure, yet, if working in passion will create better artwork. That is why I plan to do so, it will serve as an experiment, much like this whole year, and I hope it will challenge me to keep pursuing my passions. I am sure, that by looking into this, I will develop as an artist, which is exactly what I hope to accomplish.