When you’re done you’re done (even if you’re not!)

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I see a question like this pretty often on some of the artist boards: “Is this painting done?”

Same thing applies to writing books though, or putting on your makeup, and of course you do have to stop shopping at some point whether you’re really done or not, if only because you’ve run out of money or the stores are closing.

So at some point I have to stop working on a painting, because when it’s done it’s done.

Even if it’s not.

I almost always think I should’ve done this or I could’ve done that and it would make it better, but this is just another version of paralysis by analysis.

Art is a body of work, composed of individual art pieces, and art is a work in progress. At some point I just have to let go of each piece and move on instead of endlessly tweaking the last thing I did. I try to remember some of what I shoulda woulda coulda done and then do that on the next painting.

And the next. And so on.

It doesn’t really bother me much any more. When I sign my name it’s done for better or worse and I move on. Of course I’ve tried to make it as good as I could while I was working on it, but a painting will never be perfect (though some are more perfect than others!) and I just need to get to the next one.

Some paintings will be good, some won’t — so what? Just keep painting. If I don’t keep painting, the good ones will never have a chance to see the light, and the bad ones will naturally fall into oblivion (that’s good!).

I have this great quote on my wall from who knows who, but here it is:

“Art is making a thing, and then trying to make a better one, and you keep doing this until you die, and that’s a pretty good life.”

I like that.

How about you — does this sound familiar for something in your life too?


If you’d like to support my work and truly help keep me painting, it would mean the world to me:




2 thoughts on “When you’re done you’re done (even if you’re not!)

  1. Very much so! I always say that the only really useful thing I learned in grad school was: it doesn’t need to be perfect, it needs to be DONE. It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking, the last word on the subject, absolutely comprehensive — it has to be TURNED IN. Cooking for monks reinforced the lesson: there’s no “dinner’s ready, come and get it!” Dinner has to be ready at dinner-time, and whatever is ready at dinner-time is what gets served. Who said “the perfect is the enemy of the good”? So true.

    Liked by 1 person

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