Spring Posy almost complete
" Jean, I never know when to stop!" is a common phrase I hear all the time on my watercolour workshops. The first of which this year start next week in Hampshire. These sessions have been fully booked since last year and I cannot wait for the first to arrive next Tuesday. But back to the "knowing when to stop" point.
There is a fine line between stopping too soon in a loose painting. Without adding enough definition a subject in loose work can sometimes be almost unrecognisable. But by adding far too much detail the exciting "aimed for" looseness can be completely lost. What I aim for is that magical in between area. Where viewers know what my subject is whilst my painting leaves enough mystery for their imagination. But each piece should never be overworked. When creating I often find there is a point of no return where I have a choice as to work further or put my brushes down. The above painting is a wonderful example. It could have been deemed "finished" a few brushstrokes ago but I am loving working on it. So every day I add tiny brushmarks of detail to bring favourite sections into play, as my more "important" sections. These fine touches of detail make the softer less perfectly painted flowers fade into the background which is exactly what I want. There is a trick to knowing when to add detail and when to leave a painting alone. Honestly, I would love to say it is easy, but this is knowledge that only comes in time and with practise. However you will find your own instinct will guide you as to when to stop. And yes, you possibly will ruin a few paintings on your art journey , as ALL artists have, by overworking. Artists learn far more from discarded paintings than the ones that are successful. The main point is to keep painting, enjoying creating and laughing when things go wrong rather than giving up. Please bear in mind, every single art "genius" was a beginner once!
My artists tip of the day is to always stop long before you think your painting is finished. Leave your work overnight at a stage where you can think further brushstrokes might enhance it . In the morning with fresh eyes you may feel your painting is fine as it is. Never race to finish a painting, instead enjoy the journey. Learning from each brushstroke and each addition of colour. One more thing. Have the courage to believe your work is finished if you think it is, even when others may tell you to add more. Remember your art is yours and yours alone!
Spring paintings on my easel, almost finished ,just missing a few definition details.