How do you know when a painting is finished?

Seascapes 52: week 16

How do you know when a painting is finished? This week's Seascapes 52 shares a new creation that had many iterations of "finished".

Seascape painting with textured waves
Maybe, tomorrow, perhaps (2024)

I think this one really is done now. Tbh, it took several "Is it done?" moments over the last year and a quarter to reach this conclusion. This is one of the reasons why it's really hard to state simply how long a painting takes.

I started Maybe in January 2023. By the beginning of March 2023, the seascape looked like it could be complete. Yet, I had that niggly "something's missing" feeling. 

trio of images of seascape painting in progress and artist with paintbrush

By July I had added some finishing touches and Maybe was ready and dry for Kirkstall Art Trail. Yet, I didn't varnish it. I thought it worth taking along but knew if it didn't sell, I'd probably be tempted to give it a few more nuances.

To the surprise of my social media followers, I was still tweaking this in August. One of the key changes at this point was to straighten the horizon, Another was accentuating those lovely turquoise tones in the sea-green palette. But was it done? I still wasn't sure.

January this year saw me adding more texture and depth to the waves. I was happy with the clouds but the sea didn't quite do it for me. By this time, I'd uncovered a few new studio techniques so was able to play with the textures in a more subtle way. Plus, I wanted to explore a bit more blending in the water to accentuate the movement of the water (rather than just the crests of the waves). And I sorted out the horizon line.

Two images of painting in studio on easel, one with artist in foreground

In addition to all the studio time, this painting had several forays up and down stairs and into different living spaces. An important part of my creative process is putting paintings into my line of vision so that I can figure out how to finesse them. The realisations come sometimes from reflection but most often from looking at them in an unfocused way. So they might catch up eye while I'm working on my laptop or watching telly and the realisation will be instant.

It was March by the time I decided I was ready to rephotograph Maybe and add it to my web collections. It'll get its triple coat of varnish soon. Yep, that's the sure sign that's it's done: committing to varnish.

But where is it?

This one definitely floats entirely out of my imagination. The clouds and waves are all about the joy of playing with paint and how the mark-making process becomes evocative. There's brushwork, palette knife, finger and other gadget applicators in this one. 

If you fancy having this Maybe on your walls so that you can gaze out to sea and watch the clouds every day, you can find it in my Land & Sea collection. I'm likely to take it along to a market in April, so nab it quickly if you're tempted. I know some of you had eyes on it previously.

Thanks for reading. Join in next Wednesday to catch the next wave in Seascapes 52. 

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