Stick a Fork in Me, I’m Done

Artists often get asked the question, “How do you know when you’re done?”

Painting is not like baking a cake. There is no recipe with a set time letting you know when it’s done.

But I like the food analogy. I think of it more like eating a meal though rather than cooking. When I’m satisfied, I’m done.

Or, if I’m full, I walk away. I may get hungry again later and go back for more. And maybe again (and again) until I find I’m finally satisfied.

OR, if I eat too much (overwork the piece) and get sick of it and don’t want to eat it EVER AGAIN! That’s when it (the art) gets cut up, or sanded and gessoed over, or pitched out the window, burned in the fire pit…you get the idea.

drawing on black gesso
Preliminary drawing on black gesso.

When I paint buildings I usually (not always) draw it out first. For this piece I decided to paint on a board prepared with black gesso so I drew in white charcoal.

Value painting
Value painting

Sometimes (not always) I block in the values in a few shades of grey. This is known as a grisaille. I like this effect and sometimes I am tempted to complete the painting in greys.

But I think I’ll get hungry later.

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