“Half of art is knowing when to stop.” —Arthur William Radford
How many times have any of us overworked a piece? Wouldn’t it be great to have an alarm go off in the studio when “enough is enough”?
I was in a watercolor workshop with the amazing Jean Haines a week ago (if you ever have a chance to take a class with her, DO IT!) and she walked around the room letting us know when to STOP. We all giggled about it – but we all knew we needed it!
Following up on that workshop, I spent the weekend painting, trying to constantly assess – did I go too far already? Does the painting really need that element I felt I wanted to add? In the painting of the roses above, I considered “filling in” more of the white space, or bringing the edge of the top right section down closer to block in the roses.
Fortunately, though, I stopped to ask myself if that was a good idea or not. I set the painting aside overnight, and looked at it again the next morning; what I realized was that adding more in that area meant finding a way to make any additional brushstrokes look like they happened at the same time as that delicious area above the flowers – and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to do that.
Another “trick” learned in Jean’s class is to have some matts around, in a variety of sizes – and see if cutting off a section will help make the decision about continuing on with the painting or not.
But the biggest tip I gained from Jean’s class that’s giving me freedom right now: don’t worry about “finishing” the image. If half a flower is perfect, don’t knock your socks off about the other half. If a dog you’re painting has one perfect eye and nose, let the viewer fill in the rest. Go visit Jean’s site and see more of her work – and you’ll see just what I mean.
PS Sorry about the long hiatus in blog posts! I’ve been more than a little busy lately, writing a book. Yes, a book! More info to come on that in 2018….but the last 6 months has been crazy trying to get all the writing and prep done, and 2 weeks ago the photo shoot happened. What’s left is final writing, then the publisher gets busy editing…..and all the production will get underway. I can’t wait to share more with you! -Sandy