How do you know when it is done?

Submitted by Tracy Felix Fraker

I have been asked this by many students in my acrylic painting workshops. I think the answer will vary based on the medium you are using and the goals of your artwork. It will also be a personal decision based on your understanding of composition. 

1. Short answer: you are satisfied with it.

2. Long answer: 

Critique the composition and correct

Review the way your eye travels the painting and be confident of your focal point

The work is ready for presentation - meaning does it need smudges cleaned up, edges are addressed and sheen is uniform or to your liking.

3. The painting either moves your method forward (you learned from it... you are inspired to do another piece based on what you got from this one) ... or you met the goal of pleasing a client in the case of a commission. 

4. Be discriminating in who you ask for a review of your work. Family members love you but don't always know what you are trying to accomplish, or what you need beyond a compliment.... or worse feeling the need to find a recognizable image in a non-representational painting.

5. Know that some paintings will "fall off the brush" and others may take many passes and corrections. I will set a work in progress in my family room and live with it, until I know what to do next. The more advanced the painting becomes the slower my process goes. (usually) So I don't go into it unless I know what it is I want to accomplish.

I have heard this one too... It's like when you are having dinner. You just know when you are done.

See the comments section below? How do you answer this one?

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