Thursday, 8 March 2012

Revisiting Unfinished Paintings

I am often reluctant to go back to unfinished, or almost finished paintings.  When my artwork is nearing completion and I am pleased with it I begin to worry that something I will do is going to ruin what I've managed to capture.  Not all my paintings turn out well and the difference between getting a painting looking ok and looking great is often a stroke of luck, some days it's as if the muse is with me and sothing magical happens, other days I seem to be just following steps and the painting ends up looking artificial, over-worked or contrived. Hence I begin to get a bit edgy when adding the finishing touches and sometimes rather leave a painting slightly unfinished than go over the top.

If after a few months I'm still not quite pleased with a painting I usually paint over it, it gives me great satisfaction to eradicate my failings and have another go at a completely different subject.  Sometimes the previous painting acts as an underpainting and adds some impossible-to-plan interest to the new work.  Quite a few of the paintings I have already posted on this blog have faced this end, even the one of the close up of my eye in the blog entitled A Painting of a Friend's Kid, which I turned into a much better painting of Tatiana at the Bathroom Door, which I have yet to include in a post.

Some paintings however I regain inspiration for and have a go at finishing off or improving in some way.  The still-life which heads this blog is one example, it was a whole year before I went back to it to add the detail in the glass and background, although I did quite like it as it was when it was only half finished.  It is acrylic on canvas, back when I used to do most of my paintings in acrylics.  Another example is the portrait to the right, of my friend and student  Carlos.  In this case I just couldn't get my first attempt at painting him right, it looked awful and I had intended to give it to him as a gift.  I just had to give up and go back to it a few months later.  Now I am quite pleased with the re-touched result and it is now hanging on his wall.

I have read that other artists leave their paintings a while to assess with more objectivity the result of their labours.  I would never touch a painting that I am already pleased with though, I am not confident enough yet that I wouldn't mess it up.  If I'm just going to paint over it though then what is there to lose, just a little more time and a bit more paint.

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