Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jungle Fire (Finished!)

Jungle Fire,  Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 8"h x 10"w, 2013 #40


Just a very quick update on this piece which I have dragged along for almost a year, and finally finished during this weekend. No, I have actually not procrastinated on it -- some pieces come easier than the others, but this is not one of them. I would layer another wash on it every now and then, and look at it after a couple of days, feeling it still needed something -- slight adjustment of color temperatures, a little detail to modify the jagged edges left by masking fluid, etc. And finally, when I am looking at it today, I realized IT IS DONE. 

When I first started painting I never thought finish a piece is this much work and involves this much pondering -- I would select a good reference photo and when the painting looks quite like the photo I know it is done. But the more I paint, the more I realize it is the artist's aesthetics instead of the snap of a camera should dictate when and how a particular painting is finished. It can be as sketch or realistically detailed as you, the artist, is happy for it to be. The line between a finished painting and one not quite yet suddenly becomes much more blurred.

Sometimes I only realized a painting has passed its finishing point after I have put a couple more strokes and realized I just overworked it. ("An artist knows an awful lot -- but he only knows it afterwards", says the all-wise Paul Klee.) Sometimes I think it is done and frame the painting, only to take it out later for further adjustments. There is not an iron-cast standard, but more of a feeling that different layers and strokes are finally coming together into a beautiful, coherent whole, a melody instead of a collection of music notes.

Hopefully, as I continue working, one day the blurred line would become clear again...

How do you, my artist friends, decide that a painting you have labored over is done?

You can now buy high quality Giclee prints of many of my sold paintings, both on paper and canvas, as well as some note cards with my paintings here:


  1. Perhaps it is the subject that has caused the lengthy painting time, I too did a similar bird of paradise twice and could not feel happy with it and then it was too late to save. This has turned out beautifully so has been worth it

  2. Well this painting was certainly worth it! It is beautiful. I love those fiery reds against the cool greens. And I think that moment when you realize that you're not happy with your painting looking as close to the photo as possible is the moment when you have gotten over that first hump of being an artist and starting to find your own style. I know when a painting is done when it just 'feels' like it is. I don't really know how to articulate it but I know it when I see it! LOL. :D

  3. How inspiring to read your struggle with this beautiful piece. Patience and persistence and a critical eye definitely paid off.


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