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How does an artist know when a painting is finished?


Vibrant Waters 2014 - Emily Heard

Colourful Painting. ‘Vibrant Waters’ 2014 – Emily Heard

I recently shared the start of my latest painting to my Facebook art page.  To me it was just the beginning, the skeleton if you like, of a piece I planned a lot more work for.  However, the response I received for a painting I thought was in it’s infancy was surprisingly positive, with the general consensus being to leave it just as it is…. That got me thinking, how do you know when a piece is finished? So I had a little look on the internet to see what other artist’s had to say..

‘I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess’- Jackson Pollock

 ‘I find that at about the point when I no longer want to rip the canvas apart and smash the stretcher, then it’s probably about finished!’ – John Houston

‘The paintings I love most are those where there is still a mystery, ending, or question that I provide from my own experiences. Paintings tell stories, but should leave something to the imagination of the observer’ – Unknown

‘You never do, that’s why it’s a piece of art’- Unknown  

‘Paintings are never finished, only abandoned.’ – Picasso

Personally,  I can only say I never really feel like I’ve finished a piece, which is why I find it invaluable to have the opinion of other people.  When it’s your own work, no matter how satisfied you may be with a painting, there is always an inner part of you that casts a critical gaze over something which needs more highlighting, enhancing or redefining.  I heard once that an artist never really finishes a painting until they sell it- when they can no longer see it to find an aspect of it to change.

As for this sunset painting, I think I’m going to listen to the opinion of others rather than my urge to change it, and leave it just as it is…fingers crossed…

For more of my work, please visit my Facebook page:


Emily x

Me again 2014 boost

Emily Louise Heard. 2014






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