Calling Artwork Done Doesn’t Always Make It So

Cougar 'n Baby Original Art by Theresa

(partial view of this oil pastel painting)

Something you’ll find at just about any art studio is canvases of unfinished works. Shapes and streaks of a beginning and I’m almost there until I stopped abruptly. Artists will tell you that they reach a point where they decide to sidestep the finish line, the finish line being the completion of their piece. An artist could lose inspiration or direction smack dab in the middle of their session. They disengage. They lose their way. This occurrence has ended many an artist’s dream, making them feel they are not up to resolving the inspirational idea that made them pick up their brushes in the first place. This is one explanation for lonely canvasses lying dormant for days, weeks, even years, before they are revisited by their maker. A lot of them have been taken out of their hiding places, scrutinized closely, turned this way and that, then deposited right back, in that darkly abandoned area of the studio.

However, there are the lucky few, that get a reprieve with new life breathed onto their surfaces by the addition of fresh paint. The public would be surprised by how many great works are the end result of painting over unresolved ideas, mistakes … that lie just beneath the new surface of a popular painting. Artists do struggle with decision-making throughout their creative careers. They are forced to call something done, which leaves them feeling unsatisfied, uninspired, even depleted. Artists can suffer through their painting episodes because many of them cast themselves onto the gesso-primed cloth  “out there for the world to see” … not them but what’s inside their minds, showing their vulnerabilities and inhibitions. Their hitherto untapped stimulations and yearnings to express themselves adequately. Most are humbled when their work is applauded and then go on to create more, and all because they were encouraged,  appreciated and accepted.

I believe everyone can paint if they try. It is one of the simplest ways to get things out of your system. There certainly is a lot of anger displayed through the process of applying colorful, wet paint to an awaiting surface. It’s blended on a palette, stroked on with brushes and then allowed to become dried evidence of dark thoughts. It’s therapeutic! I think the renowned mid-century artist, Jackson Pollock was driven by his addiction to drink, to show us his relentless anguish through the spatters and drippings of his provoked masterpieces. If he can paint anyone can paint. My advice is to go to the craft store, spend $20.00 on materials and give it a try. Were the people of the world expressing themselves on canvas and allowing their seething anger to be released … to dry and evaporate, then we might be left with lots of interesting masterpieces, less confrontations and a lot of peace. I wonder what our government officials would come up with were they told to create through painting? It’s something to think about.

Using a non-profit organization calendar of animal photos I traced and sketched this work. I had to take my time because getting the proportion right isn’t easy with animals. I was unsure about using paint and for that reason, I used oil pastels. Pastels look like colored chalks.  I reached this point and put it away until later. Joe likes to hang up my finished and unfinished pieces. (I do take some down you understand.) This one is hanging on a wall and after about fourteen years, I am now confident I can paint the surface with oils to complete it. Wish me luck, and do go buy some art supplies because you’ll be surprised by what’s inside of you.

Original Art By Theresa

(*tweaked @ 4:04 p.m.)

Copyright © 2013 “Sleeping Kitten – Dancing Dog!” All rights reserved.

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About Theresa H Hall

As a professional vocalist. licensed broadcaster, artist, published poet, lyricist, writer, essayist, critic, animal lover and budding pastr View all posts by Theresa H Hall

16 responses to “Calling Artwork Done Doesn’t Always Make It So

  • cavepainter

    This does happen a lot for me. I have a mostly done painting sitting in the corner over there that I’ve been meaning to finish for over a year. I think I ran into a bit of a roadblock and wasn’t sure how to go forward, but it probably wouldn’t take much…

    • Theresa H Hall

      Hey cavepainter,

      I was still rearranging my template’s background color when you left this message.

      Thanks for visiting me. When the time is right you will know how to proceed. Might I suggest starting another painting so you do not stay blocked for a long period of time? I have allowed this to happen to me a few times and looking back, I realize that painting is better when we are actually locked in the process. Cheers!

  • Melody J Haislip

    Theresa, I have yet to work up the nerve to paint, although I’ve had an image in my head for years of a tiny little piece I’d like to do. I’ve had similar experiences with writing. In fact, the very first piece I ever published was a very angry open letter to Sen. Joe Lieberman!

    I’ve always liked your cats and I’d love to see how you’ll finish it. I’m so glad you’ve taken up a brush again. I’m sure the artistic part of your personality is very happy, too! No pressure, of course! 🙂

  • Jayme Art

    Hi Theresa,
    I do that all the time. Start a project, set it aside, …pick it back up later…
    Sometimes I stick to it till its finished. Just depends. :]

  • Howisbradley

    When I think of an artist who had to suffer through a lot of pain to bring beautiful art into our world, I always think of Vincent Van Gogh.

  • Helena Fortissima

    Boy, can I relate to unfinished works! I have a large half-finished painting on the easel right now, and haven’t touched it in almost 2 years. Hopefully, my tubes of acrylic aren’t all dried up! That’s a very cool oil pastel you created, Theresa. The eyes are so soulful!

    • Theresa H Hall

      Kris, Thanks, but I felt the cub’s eyes are not right and I will fix them with the application of paint. You’ll get back to that canvas when you are ready. Sometimes putting it aside and taking out a new canvas is all you need to get the juices flowing. I was so glad I stopped by your blog today. 😀

  • nothingprofound

    Paul Valery said: “A poem is never finished; it is only abandoned.” I imagine the same must be true of a painting as well. There comes a point where one just has to sign off, and let it go. I try not to fuss over my aphorisms too much.

  • C.E.K. Nelson

    Great post and I can totally relate! Good luck with finishing, whatever that is-I am a painter as well- I get it-LOL!!!

    • Theresa H Hall

      I began working on another painting (so like me!) and am not happy with that one, so back to the drawing board. I’ll set this one back on the big easel … just in case the inspiration returns.

      • C.E.K. Nelson

        Struggling right now to finish one-LOL- never ends but you must push yourself- it is a challenge for sure!!!:) hope you find inspiration!! You might want to consider entering juried exhibitions with deadline dates- CAFE is a great site- call for artists entries

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