When is a Painting Finished? 12th April

A talk by Caroline Marsland.

There is no limit time-wise to finishing a painting.

The examples by Turner of a ship emerging from fog and a train emerging from steam capture the mood effectively yet have little detail.  Turner stopped painting as soon as the work said all he wanted it to say.

Several paintings may at first glance look “unfinished” but they concentrate on the focus which could be a face or even a mood, feeling or tone.

The Lowry concentrates on the stairs of a footbridge and there is no extraneous detail.

Paintings can be overworked.  The beach scene by Eric Fischl has every figure done with the same degree of detail and confuses the eye.

When working on your own painting consider:

Are the colours balanced?

  • Is the focal point correctly positioned?
  • Are there any distracting objects?
  • Does the eye flow round the painting?
  • Does the painting convey the message you want?

To assess your work, it may help to stand farther away, look at it through a mirror or even put it away for a few days then re-examine it with fresh eyes.

Many thanks to Lesley McBride, who kindly took notes and photos in my absence.