When is an artwork finished?

I pronounced this painting complete back in January. Several weeks later I found that I was dissatisfied with it and decided to put it back on the easel.

My decision came after the painting was not selected for an open exhibition. At the best of times submitting artwork to any open exhibition is done with a certain amount of trepidation. Having put in weeks, if not months, of work, I find that the optimism and enthusiasm I have when I begin a painting can dissipate during its execution as doubts about the technique I’ve adopted or the way the painting is developing compared to the original concept invade my thoughts. I love the process of painting and as time goes by my thinking can change and the painting changes to reflect this. When I submitted this painting for the exhibition in question I had felt it complete though not, perhaps, as I had originally visualised it.


When it wasn’t selected I looked again at the painting. Evidently my view of it had become more objective and I found it, I can only think to describe it, as thin. It needed more substance. The important word I used in the previous paragraph is ‘process’. Often the journey is more significant than the arrival and no single artwork by any artist should be appraised, criticised or appreciated in its own right without reference to anything that artist has done before or is yet to do. Its a flaw in the principle of open exhibitions that each submitted artwork is assessed entirely on merits evident only in that piece and only in a few seconds. Any decision to admit or not to admit an artwork is consequently based on superficial criteria.

The issue with this painting was the blue in the upper left and right corners and I set to work adding more strokes of colour. I’ve created more of the tunnel effect that I wanted leading to the blue centre. I now declare this painting complete… for now!



This article is a follow-up to an earlier one about this painting.

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