When is a painting finished? A frequently asked question, and the only answer I can give definitively is – when I no longer have access to it. The two paintings above are a case in point. The second, darker painting is actually the first From Safe Harbor, painted early last year as part of the Song for the Ancient Mariner Series. I used monoprint techniques to develop it, rolling a dark base color on the panel then creatively wiping and blotting the paint away. Later brushwork with oil paints and glazes completed the piece, and the effect of the darkly mysterious water pleased me. But was it done? Almost a year later, after living with the painting in the studio, I thought it might be interesting to try taking the initial idea further. Could I rework the foreground and introduce more light? The sense of mystery might be lost, but I might learn a new approach for developing watery froth on a dark substrate. I took a very worn “chip” brush dipped in a mixture of titanium white with alkyd impasto medium and a touch of liquid alkyd and began to draw in the rhythm of wave and foam. Once this was dry, I developed the foam with whitish glazes and added some brighter green glazes toward the center. I also went back and heightened the drama of the original wave form, adding more spray. Once again the painting is finished.
The original looked great too.
Thanks. The decision to let go of the first version wasn’t easy, but since the goal is becoming a better painter, it had to be. All my paintings are big (and little) experiments, the important question I keep asking myself is what if….