When Is It Finished?

“How to do I know when a painting is finished?” is a somewhat difficult question to answer. A painter’s experience in developing paintings helps to resolve the question of when it is finished. Knowing what is the desired result also helps.

To assist with this quandary, you may wish to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What is my first impression fo the painting?
  • Is there anything that truly bothers me?
  • Do I like my brushstrokes and application?
  • Does it feel as if it needs something? What?
  • Should something be eliminated or simplified?
  • How is the overall readibility?
  • Does it have impact (from a distance)?
  • Does it have a payoff (aesthetics from up close)?

    Finally, wait a few days and look at the painting again.

    –Craig Nelson, author of 60 Minutes to Better Painting

    Mary Whyte is the author of Watercolor for the Serious Beginner (Watson-Guptill) and a compilation of her low-country portraits titled Alfreda’s World (Wyrick & Co.). Her work has been exhibited widely and her portraits are in numerous private and corporate collections. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina, where she and her husband, Smith Coleman, own an art gallery (www.colemanfineart.com). Her art will be exhibited this summer at the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, where she’ll be offering a one-day watercolor workshop on July 12. See more of her art online.

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