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When Is A Painting Done?

metamorphosis painting detail

Beginnings need endings.

I get a huge burst of energy when beginning new work.

There are infinite possibilities. It’s a big rush. The ending of a painting is very different.

I slow way down.

I’ll spend time giving the canvas long stares and squints, studying the rhythm of the colors on the canvas. I might even think “it is done”, but most of the time, I’m wrong. I know this is part of my process, so I let it sit in the studio for awhile.

metamorphosis painting detail
Metamorphosis painting in progress

Trusting that absence makes the heart grow fonder…

When I look at it again, I’ll see it fresh. Something inside me lights up, that insists a particular shape be hidden by a pale yellow veil or a dark corner calls out for hint of cobalt. This can go on for weeks, months, or even years. It depends on the piece.

I can only stop answering when it stops speaking to me.

I love this part of the process as much as the rush in the beginning. It’s a little bittersweet because I know my time with the work is almost over.

I think a long goodbye is good goodbye, so I try to take my time.

Artist at work - Siobhan Bedford

Want to know how other artists decide when a work is finished?

Check out this article in ARTnews.

Author Siobhan


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