Knowing When To Stop…

Knowing When To Stop… post image

I’ve often been a little bemused watching some of Gary Reef’s videos. He’ll present something that, to my eyes, looks extraordinary. But sometimes you’ll detect a note of unease, a kind of restlessness in him. He isn’t crazy about what he’s produced, but by the same token he often doesn’t seem able to articulate exactly why. This confused me a little… until it started happening to me. And maybe that’s the downside to this “taking a step and then reacting to that and then reacting to that” approach. You’re not exactly sure what you’re building so you’re not sure when it’s done, or if it’s working out or if it’s gone completely off the rails. There’s a certain freedom in this but then freedom can be terrifying. And often you’re only working with your emotions, how you’re feeling in a given point in space and time. Is the painting wrong or are you annoyed or restless because of some completely unrelated piece of minutia from your life?

I was rather ill last week, but I managed to create this acrylic painting on canvas. I’ve been fascinated recently by palette knives and was keen to see what I could do to with one myself.

Work In Progress: Colourful Light And Pattern

Though I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t know what it was or if it was finished or not. It was much too abstract, much too colourful, much too… something. Much too little something else.

I have a new found appreciation for this, unfortunately three or four coats of paint later it hardly seems to matter. What it was exists only in a handful of sketchy photographs. So I wonder, how do you know when to stop? How do you know something needs to be developed and how do you know you should just leave it alone?

1 comment… add one
  • I relate to this with writing. It’s one thing to figure out for yourself when something is “done” but when other voices enter in, it makes me doubt my own judgement. I like to keep an open mind, and listen to advice, but I really truly know something is done when I have taken something (a word, a phrase, a comma!) out and put it back in and taken it out again. When I feel that I’m just going back and forth, I make a decision and say “enough.”

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