Friday, May 10, 2013

The Artist's Dilemma - Knowing When To Stop

After frequently looking at a photo I printed out for well over a year ago,  I decided yesterday to bite the bullet and paint it. I had finished my pick-up truck and was looking about for something else, something that would again stretch my abilities. While I am not sure I am done with the pick-up truck (see the previous post), I realized yesterday that I had achieved something that I had not done before but wasn't sure if I was done or not. I wonder if every artist faces this dilemma. I have a suspicion they do. It also made me re-think meddling with the last painting. Maybe we should do what we can, then let it alone and move on. I am almost sure that is what Van Gogh did. He painted with a feverish intensity then moved on. Ah, such discipline. It seems strange, when I do my crafts, that is exactly what I do. Once the finishing varnish goes on, its done.

Nasturtiums & Lobelia's

The photograph that I used was pretty much this vibrant, maybe a bit fussier but had striking colors and contrasts that demand notice. I concentrated laying a black and black-green acrylic base down at random, a bit of brown to show dirt, then a layer of buttermilk paint where every flower and leaf was to be. This was all done freehand, no underlying sketch, something I rarely do. Somehow I got the randomness down and even in the white version sprinkled across the background, it was striking.
Detail of Nasturtiums & Lobelias

Next came the blue violet as I was trying to go from the lowest to upper layers allowing the orange nasturtiums to float over the underlying lobelias. Tiny, almost immature green leaves came next and finally the long, stringy stems that seemed to be a mass that went everywhere.

I wanted to add enough to show the rampant confusion but not so much it would diminish the vibrance of the colors. It would have been easy to do and hence the dilemma. Is it done? Does it need anything more?

My teacher loved it and said she had never seen anything quite like it before. I loved the vibrant colors that seemed to float over the deep background. Putting down the stems I realized that I had to stop before they would diminish the vibrancy. Yet, well, do you continue with the fussiness? Do you add more details, make it more detailed or, leave it alone? Let the colors and shapes create enough of an image that your mind finishes the subject? For now, I will let it alone. Not another brush stroke. The temptation is there yet doing anything more would, in my mind, diminish the vibrant energy of both the colors and the brush strokes.

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