The process of painting: How to decide a painting is finished

While painting you could always technically improve your picture until at some time it might be “perfect”.

But sometimes a “flaw” makes a painting more interesting, so it is hard to decide to change something after a long time. Usually, I make small changes within the first few months. So when to finish?
I suppose this coincides with the stage where any improvement I try doesn’t really work. There’s this self portrait for instance where the rear of the room is slightly askew because I drew it like that in the sketch. Working on the painting I was on my way to correct this as I realised the “wrong” perspective worked better than the intended straight “horizon”. Perspective can be measured an any viewer who knows how to do that can find the flaws, so it is tempting to try and fix them all. It’s the same with wayward brushstrokes that I made while setting up the painting or smudges that are supposed to grow into an object. Sometimes leaving the brushstrokes or even blurring earlier details make a much stronger effect than completely working it.


I’ve heard someone say every artist should have somebody who takes a painting away before he works on it too long.

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