Know When To Stop

Posted by Dane Carder on February 28, 2019

There’s a thing in making a painting that is trickier than most of the other things, and there’s plenty of tricky things. Knowing when to stop is not really something that can be taught, it can hardly even be learned. The dilemma arrives one painting at a time, and it’s likely to repeat regularly after a certain point in the painting process. Sometimes, paintings get “overworked,” when an artist takes the plunge to push further towards a solution, not realizing that the freshest finish has been passed. There is an inherent energy in the creative process, and an overworked painting will often show signs that the energy was put in a straight jacket. Much of my work toes the line of realism, while it strives to maintain the vitality of the original inspiration. I stared at this painting, General John, for days and hardly painted at all… It wasn’t settled (finished), but I wasn’t clear on the route to get there. Was I treading on overworking it? That felt like the danger zone that I needed to avoid, but I also didn’t want to quit ahead of the miracle, just for fear of that old trap. Eventually, the door opened up to the way to finish, and a coat of glazed oil paint delivered me to freedom… finished.

General John  –  60″x48″ acrylic and oil on canvas  –  2019

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