“A painting is never finished …

“A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places” is a quote by Paul Gardner and is one of my favourites.

Doesn’t this zero in on the crux of the creative process brilliantly?  A question of adding and taking away until you reach the place that is interesting and then having the courage to step away. It’s deciding on the ‘interesting place’ that is the artistry. It is oh, so easy, certainly with painting, to overwork it and then it is lost, gone forever.

the beginning of a variegated gold leaf and turquoise painting

Those of you who read my last post will know that this particular painting lay fallow for many months. Now the creative surge has returned and I am in the middle of the ‘putting it on / taking it off’ process.

the middle, I think, of a variegated gold leaf and turquoise painting

I don’t think I am quite at the interesting place yet …

I know a lot of my followers are artists, so tell me, fellow creatives, is your particular art form essentially a question of putting it on and taking it off?


  1. I am very much an amateur choral music writer, but I did a tremendous amount of original writing ( with which I was quite happy) when my first-born came along in early 1969. Composing had to take a backstep to marriage, my scientific studies and subsequent career, but I dabbled extensively over the years, and anticipated that when I would retire in 2011, that I would fill the idle days with work at the keyboard. But truth to say, I have not written one original piece since retirement……so to get back to your original proposition…….yes you are right, but do not be like me, as i have massive amounts of manuscripts just needing finished and/or tidied up. They will never be performed, just as your paintings may never be enjoyed on someone’s wall….so get on and finish them……..no lame excuses now!


  2. Thank you so much for the advice! You are so right.
    I found it very difficult to fully commit to my art while my children were still at home, which is as it should be. I then went through empty nest grieving and I am now out the other side and raring to go.
    I think you have hit upon a truth – sometimes the most difficult part of art is completion. It bears with it so many risks …
    I love choral music, so I look forward to hearing a composition by you one day.


  3. I love editing my writing, taking away those phrases, sentences, paragraphs and even whole chapters that seemed so important at the time but which now seem like flab, weighing down the story in an unflattering way. It’s such a fine art doing that, I think – something you feel in your gut as well as with your head. Words are easy to erase with a computer but I still find it interesting to look over edited printed-out versions of my writing. It must be like paint, leaving a physical layer? I find it fascinating when they discover unfinished work by artists below something that has found greater fame – the untold story in that decision to abandon a work and start anew is so very intriguing!


  4. Absolutely!
    I think it is one of your great strengths, your love of editing. As they say, ‘kill your darlings’. Not easy. But things need to be sacrificed for the benefit of the whole. I suppose that is what art is all about …


  5. Is it the same with books? I know I find it very difficult to say, This is it now. Perfectionism can be a yoke round the shoulders. In the end there’s a sort of exhaustion that says I can’t go on with this anymore and I’ve got to have something new. It stops now. The characters, of course, live on in me. You hope it is at an interesting place for the reader because by the end you’ve sort of had it with the whole endeavour!


  6. I think that is true of writing Francesca – you write and then you take away through editing and maybe add something again – and it can also be hard to know when a story is finished or to finish it in a satisfactory way! Beautiful painting!


  7. Thank you so much, Andrea!
    I thought it might be similar. Though, with you wonderful writers, I marvel at how you can hold all those words in your head. At least with a painting it is there in front of me, I can step back from it. Kudos!

    Liked by 1 person

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