How to Know When You’ve Arrived

How do you know when you’re finished? Sometimes it’s very obvious. Sometimes it’s an intuition. Or sometimes you simply don’t know! Here are some guidelines to help answer when you’re stuck.

The Big Questions
Were you the director? Or did the piece direct you?
Does your piece do what you want it to do?
Does your piece do what it was intended to do?

Viewer Clarity
What leads the viewer’s eye? Does it have an area of interest? A star?
(Could have more contrast, detail, etc. than other areas)
Do you have a definite foreground, middle ground, background?
Are there a variety of masses of unequal sizes?

Rhythm and movement
Is the arrangement dynamic or static?
Are all the elements and shapes designed well? Elegant or awkward?
Do the elements have gesture?

Does your piece have interesting texture?
Is it cohesive or is one part different and sticks out?
Marks of a variety of scale? (Different brushes)
Does that texture support or detract?

Are all edges the same? Hard vs. soft
What is happening where one form meets another?
Is there a vibration of color there?
Do the edges help explain the atmosphere/mood?
What happens when a shadow meets the light?
Do the edges help explain the space between things?

Unresolved areas
Which areas have issues?
Tangencies, technical mistakes/inaccuracies, imbalance; what doesn’t belong or fit?
Do areas feel like they are painted differently? What is the common thread throughout?

Does it look done? (simple but effective)
Does your work look finished?
Does it have the right amount of polish? Or does it look too slick?
Is it messy? Are you a messy painter?

Finishing Options

Throw it away! Yes, I do that!
Sign it, call it good, frame it up!!
Leave it alone and readdress it later with fresh eyes.
Put it where you can catch a glance of it.
Put it away, so you don’t have to look at it!
Completely re-work it; make it into a new piece! Do a 180 degree turn!

With Warmest Regards,

Painting Minilessons
with Marla Baggetta

These “mini-lessons” grew out of my blog. I love sharing my experience behind the easel, so these are free. I write a new one every two or three weeks, so please feel free to share with artist friends.

​These lessons are mostly written text with graphics…short but useful tidbits from the foundations of painting that touch on subjects such as aerial perspective, simultaneous contrast or using negative spaces. I guide you through different aspects of painting and art that will get you comfortable with using pastels. You’ll gain confidence to attempt work that you might have otherwise been timid about.

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