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Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. (Hal Borland)

Opening a show, is sort of like throwing a big party except there is even more work and coordination and showing your work often evokes a certain level of excitement as well as anxiety and insecurity. The day following the opening, the artist often has to try to discover ways to forestall the postpartum blues (opening of show variety) Then as the show continues your interaction continues. You meet people there, you chat, you answer questions... Then you take it all down. Today I took down the show. I uninstalled. I brought the work home. So in an effort to distract myself and forestall the postpartum blues (end of show variety) I am blogging. I am going to answer that question I am so often asked.... how do I know when a painting is finished? Unfortunately, my honest answer is probably less than informative. The answer is, when I have said everything I can say in that particular painting- when there is resolution, and the painting is not over worked (there is still some entry point for viewers to wander around and find their own meaning, some breathing space). And how do I know that? Well...

There is a lot of standing (or sitting) around looking involved in painting. When I am getting ready to quit painting for the day,I usually appraise and try to determine what my next steps are going to be. I like to leave for the day knowing where I intend to start back up. When I come back, I step back to see what has changed since the last time I saw the painting. I know it is just seeing with fresh eyes, but please indulge me while I make believe the painting looks different because the painting gremlins were hard at work. Because most of the time what is in front of me is not exactly what I have been looking at in my head. I do the same thing when I conclude that I am "done". When I look and decide This is it! I leave and return later to look again.

I can't believe there is a poet who hasn't eagerly put down a word one day, only to erase it the next day deciding it was sheer lunacy. It's part of the process of selection. Stephen Dobyns

When I come back, sometimes I notice there is something unresolved in the lower left hand corner (let's say) which causes me to go work that area which leads to another area or maybe the entire picture requiring additional work!

That's all there is, there isn't any more. (Ethel Barrymore

Then there are the other times. The times I return to the studio and find a painting that reads an an entire piece of work. At those times I sit and visit with the painting. I get to know the painting as an observer not the person familiar with how it came to be. Now that is finished.

To put it as simply as possible - and this is a simple answer, not a total answer - I know when a painting's finished when I understand why I wanted to do it in the first place. (James Elkins)
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