How do you know when a painting is finished?
Last week I crowed to a good friend about two paintings I’d just finished.
This friend knows me a little too well. His immediate response was “did you sign them?”
Signing a painting is, for me, an irrevocable step. It is the point where I say “This painting is absolutely complete. There is not another brushstroke that will improve it.”
That’s a very hard statement for me to make!
I know I’m not alone in this difficulty. Many artists have trouble knowing when their paintings are finished. It’s easy to tweak this and go back over that. “Maybe just one more stroke… well, maybe two…” At some point you just have to say “enough.”
Leonardo da Vinci said “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
I find signing to be quite challenging. Most of the time I paint with big brushes and large luscious gobs of paint. Signing, on the other hand, requires very fluid paint (I use a special liquid paint just for signing) and a very steady hand. I use a tiny brush called a “liner” for signing. I’ll save up several finished paintings and sign them all at one go, for efficiency. I have to carefully mix a color for my signature for each painting so it will show up against the multi-colored background, yet not interfere with the overall painting. Signing is a tricky business! Which is just another reason to put it off, unfortunately.
But yes, I did finally sign those paintings. After adding a few more brushstrokes…