Cleaning up my Act – the Unfinished Paintings

It’s time to clean up my act…the procrastination act.

Detail of painting in progress.

Out in the studio I’ve noticed the canvases are multiplying. Yet when my gallery owner friend Rob Buckland dropped in the other day to see my “new work”, I stalled him with lunch and conversation. Finally, we ran out of time to visit the studio.

“You’re painting a lot! I see that from the blog. I’d like to have a look at what you’re doing.”

Part of the “Work in Progress” pile.

I have been painting consistently this winter, but when I took a long hard look at it, I realized much of my work is unfinished.
I took this opportunity to look at why this happens to me. It’s nothing new. I dragged lots of unfinished watercolors with me to Nova Scotia over three years ago to “finish some day”.

My ever changing palette of fluid acrylics.

Like so many artists, the part of painting that I like the best is the beginning. Why? Because beginning is full of endless possibilities , fresh color, new ideas and pure joy. I also really like the actual process of painting–it’s far more enjoyable than the end product.

Transforming an unhappy painting.

When the work gets to the point where I’m unsure how to proceed, I set it aside rather than overwork it and kill it. But often during that critical waiting period, a fresh idea for an entirely different painting will come along and off I go on my new adventure. Then I think that I can’t get back the feeling that led me to the original painting. Mixed in with this is the fear of ruining what’s already there. It’s complicated and it’s also universal. In the book Art and Fear, the author talks about this phenomena in this book for artists and creative types.

My original painting felt unfinished.
I keep the hot drink on the left side so I don’t put my paint brush into it!

A couple of weeks ago, partly driven by the many canvases in the studio and motivated by wanting to give Rob work for the Flight of Fancy I decided not to start anything new until the “almost finished” canvases are painted, signed, sealed, have their edges painted and are ready for hanging.

Inspired by a Geranium blooming in the studio.

Surprisingly, working on them has been like visiting an old friend in their presence I remembered what drew me to them in the first place along with the thought “why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Do you have unfinished work? How do you handle it?

I’ll let you know about my progress this week.

4 thoughts on “Cleaning up my Act – the Unfinished Paintings

  1. Hi Flora,Every artist you know has unfinished work. Show deadlines are a big help, and friends help too. I have a good friend who will come over and tell me that something is finished. Wish I could come to Nova Scotia right now because I bet most of the work is really finished, and you just need to let it go.Super paintings, and great blog.XOBarbara

  2. I wish you could be here too Barbara! It almost felt like you were with our marathon telephone convo!I enjoy your paintings in every stage!And you know what they say —- it takes 2 artists to make a picture. One to paint it and the other to say 'stop'.I think maybe it takes a third to say "finish". 😉

  3. Hi Flora, i can certainly identify with all unfinished paintings…got my own stash….it does feel so great to charge in and do something really drastic to a painting that isn't working like paint over it to create a new ground for something else. This one worked really well. I love the freshness and vibrancy of your work.

  4. Sally, thanks for your comment.I think I might be losing the battle with the unfinished paintings though! It's funny how they morph from finished to "why don't you just add a little bit here, a little bit there" after hanging in the studio all winter! 😉

Comments are closed.