Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sin or Crime?

Garland weaver in Reverie mixed media by Meera Rao 

The fear of messing up so often means I think a painting is complete before it really is!  Couple of months ago I was surveying my paintings to pick one to submit to the local art league members open show.  One of the paintings  that I had thought was finished, signed, framed and blogged  about suddenly felt incomplete.  I pulled it out of the frame, and added some darks here and there. Satisfied, happily I put it back in the frame and took it to the show.  And here it is on my blog once again. 

Since then I have been mulling  over  how to know when a painting is finished?  Is it "A painting is always finished before the artist thinks it is" (Harley Brown) ? Or is Eugene Delacroix right  when he whispers in my ears :" One always has to spoil a picture a little bit in order to finish it."  Alas there is much truth in what D.H . Harding had to say : " The important thing is not what the author, or any artist, had in mind to begin with but at what point he decided to stop."  Then there is Claude Monet who proclaimed : "I say that whoever claims to have finished a canvas is terribly arrogant."  What did Picasso have to say about all this? : "Woe to you the day it is said that you are finished! To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul – to give it its final blow; the most unfortunate one for the painter as well as for the picture." 

May be it is as Ted Goodwin says: "A painting is finished when to have done less would be considered a sin and more a crime!  "  The trouble is I am not a good judge when it comes to sin or crime ;)

10 comments:

Katherine Thomas said...

Ooh, I like this painting and the changes you made. That is SUCH a tough question: How to tell if a piece is finished. I agree with the ones who say it's never really finished. On the other hand, if you take it out months later and start to change things, it's not really the same painting anymore. So maybe paintings are reborn, rather than never having been finished... This could be debated forever!

Meera Rao said...

Thank you Katherine! I think its the same painting - but the painter who isn't the same ? Most of the times I out of fear of overworking stop too soon and after looking at it again with fresh eyes months or years later suddenly have the courage to go in :)When I am still attached to the painting I am not objective of what it really needs :(

padmaja said...

This is a stunning piece by you Meera, love the textures and depth you gave.. agree with Katherine, recently I retouched 3 of my paintings because I felt I could work more on them.. but finally they turned out to be completely new pieces, farway from what they were, almost like same soul in a different body!

Meera Rao said...

Padmaja, Thank you very much! I think there are degrees of retouching or making adjustments or rehauling completely to give it new life, no?

Jane said...

I think I will go with the last one, and yes, it is so difficult to know when to stop . I think though it also depends on the medium you use, like for example, I think many of my watercolors aren't really finished, but in order not to ruine them, I just leave it there. With oils, you can go on and on and never really finish. Your painting here is just gorgeous, love the feeling in it.

Krishna said...

Nice painting

thanks

Meera Rao said...

Jane, thank you! I think you make an interesting point about the difference in mediums and the degree of completeness.
! I remember reading a Chinese story where the artist always leaves a small something unfinished in the painting because finishing it completely meant it might come to life and that was only for the Gods! The rest of the story is about the king who insisted the artist finish the painting because he as king deserved only the perfect piece. Of course,you can imagine how the story ended - with the painting coming to life and everything being destroyed. An interesting way to illustrate a point!!!

Meera Rao said...

Thank you Krishna!

Carol Blackburn said...

Hello Meera, tough question! I think, for me, I stop too soon for two reasons, first - I've taken a painting too far too often and then had something bad happen to it (like black run) and ruined it so now I stop sooner and let it rest awhile. If I look at it again and don't see any little changed I can make - it's done. Secondly, I think as I grow as an artist, I know more and have more experience therefore I am able to fine tune a painting as part of the original process and that time of letting it rest gets shorter. It is a matter of confidence too, on my part. Right now I haven't painted a think in about 6 months so it will feel like starting over again when I do. Wonderful job, Meera.

Meera Rao said...

Thank you carol ! Isn't it comforting to know most every artist has gone thru this ! I agree with you about growing as an artist and knowing intuitively which stroke is the last one. Thanks again for commenting - I love the the conversations this blog affords me :)

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