Tuesday 9 February 2010

The 'Good Enough" painting or knowing when to stop!

If you paint regularly you will know that the art of 'knowing when to stop' takes a long time to learn. I still find it difficult. I was listening to an artist talking on a programme the other day about the latest Van Gogh exhibition that is on in London at the moment. There is a portrait of a woman that he completed in an hour. In spite of his lack of public recognition during his life time, he obviously knew when he had completed something to his own satisfaction. On those rare occasions when the painting seems to 'paint itself' I think perhaps I should stop there at the end of that first session and not allow that critical person to come along and 'tidy up' my painting a day or so later! I did wonder whether the example below was a case in point. Another mountain peak - I'm still hooked and this is number four. In the first one you can see where I was at the end of the first session and the finished canvas as of this morning.

I'd like to leave this blog with a quote by Picasso from an article I read about him recently. I think it is  food for thought - perhaps even something for the vociferous stars of today's art world to ponder! The quote refers back to his previous comments about his huge success and wealth:

"When I am alone with myself, I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Titian and Rembrandt were great painters I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and has exhausted as best he could the imbecility, the vanity, the stupidity of his contemporaries.  Mine is a bitter confession, more painful that may appear, but it has the merit of being sincere!"


  1. coupled with your thoughts on art of knowing when to stop i would like to add something that im starting to realise and that is being true to our way of art.many times it happens with me that i start work and it goes totally astray simply because i tried to create it in some other artists way and thus lose focus eg. like by trying to add too many details like many artist do ot make it look photorealistic so that i would get some acceptance but in reality i like works from 20's -30's which had right amount of everything. I would like to hear what are your thoughts on this.

  2. Amrinder - II believe I used to paint 'pretty pictures' for 'acceptance' as you put it....However, I was never interested in photo realism in my work and have maintained that focus since I returned to painting a few years ago. I am interested in developing my own style and pursuing my interest in the patterns in nature, hence this series of mountain canvasses. I think the more you paint, the more you become absorbed by finding your voice - your own particular way of 'seeing'. It is a challenge to find a way to express something that others may not be seeing. I also think that 'less is more' and am trying to simplify my work - but that's a tough one!

  3. I love the drama of this painting and I also enjoyed looking at your landscapes. I like your style and the simplicity of your compositions.