Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When is it Finished?

With certain projects it can become difficult to decide when a piece is finished. This is true in a particular way with oil painting. On one hand there is almost always something more that can be done to a painting -some hidden brushstroke that, if discovered, could bring the subject to life. On the other hand the deeper you go, and the more you work, the greater the danger of the finished piece looking overworked. The worst thing you can do is “fiddle” with a picture.

Sometimes, as is the case with this particular portrait, you realize that it is finished because you have no more energy to spend on it. It is time to move on.

This portrait was a grueling beast to work on! I am at best an intermittent painter and it’s been a long time since I’ve tried something like this. One day I was so frustrated by it that I literally hurled the canvas across the room (my lovely model was NOT pleased). Most of the time I felt like I was trying to run a marathon with no warming up, after a year of eating nothing but doughnuts.

And in the end it’s not my best work, but it feels good to be flexing those painterly muscles again.

Link of the day: artist Iain McCaig with tips on How to Draw Hair. Thanks, of course, to Lines and Colors.


Margaret Perry said...

ben, it's really lovely--I can only imagine it is so much better in person!

Ben Hatke said...

Thanks Maggie! It's not a great painting, but it IS better in person. One thing I've never been able to do quite well is photograph paintings. The skin doesn't have quite the yellow cast it does in the post here.

Sarah said...

The detail in the eyes is amazing!!

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Bravo, Ben!!! glad you posted the detail of the eye

colby said...


This is just remarkable!! Alas, I saw the real portrait a week too soon. I think the finished product is very true to life!

Ben Hatke said...

Thanks Colby! I'm glad you got to take a peek at the unfinished version.

A little update on this portrait: I actually painted the whole canvas back to white and I'm starting over with a new pose, etc. There were just too many problems I couldn't solve with this one.


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