Knowing When Your Artwork Is Finished

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If you are an artist, how many times have you asked yourself that question?

When you are painting abstracts like I am doing right now, it's not an easy question to answer.  Abstracts are a whole new world to me.  Here are some questions and things that I ask myself and do before declaring the work as being finished.

Just like photography, I look at some basic elements.  Here's a mixed bag combining art, design and photography.  They are rule of thirds, four corners unique, use of color, contrast, lines,  patterns, unity and balance.  There's more to add but this will get you started because you don't need all of them to be present in your abstract painting.

As photographer turned painter, my favorite elements are always included in my paintings.  First, just like photographs, I think contrast adds strength to any painting.  It should have plenty of tonal range that would make it an interesting painting.

Color or lack of color is another favorite of mine.   By limiting the amount used and placing bright them in special place (rule of thirds), colors can make or break your abstract.

Lines are another nice element to give your artwork some emphasis in important places and adds debts to your abstracts.   In photography, we call them leading lines.  Hence, it's a great way to bring a viewer into your painting.

Patterns are make any painting interesting.  Jackson Pollock used paint drip patterns to create his action paintings and were very effective in making powerful abstracts.

Unity and balance play an important role too.  Shapes in a painting should feel right for the eyes using pleasing shapes with colors make a powerful message and pleasing effect for the eye.

Finally in an abstract, art teachers will tell you that each side or corner of your abstract should be different.

I Ask Myself:

  • Do I like it?  (Very important! If you like it others will too.)
  • Contrast?
  • Rich Colors with spot color for interest?
  • Texture?  (Not mentioned above but important for abstracts.)
  • Lines?
Before I let the public see it, I sit it into store for a few days.  Why?  I can't tell you how times I have painted something and after a few days, maybe weeks, I begin to hate it.  I have on many occasions painted over paintings I had thought to be finished.  Now, I put it away for awhile and then bring it out to look at it.  If my feeling about it is still the same, I will take photos and offer it for sale or put it in my personal gallery.

In the end, it is you (the artist), that will know if a painting is finished or not.  It's a gut feeling.   

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