Start Before You Finish

Occasionally I get bored with a painting I’m working on. I work so slow it seems like I will never get it finished. But I have this weird mind-set that I have to finish every painting I start before I will start another one. I can’t stand leaving something unfinished, so I have to find ways to turn that nagging feeling around. The only way I would consider pausing my work is if I needed to create something else sooner. Believe me, sometimes having to work on another piece while I’m stuck with the boring one is a welcome situation. The good thing is, though, is that there are always ways to change your process of thinking and bring about more interest into something that feels overly tedious.

Case in point is my painting “Springtime for Dracula”. I love castles, and I found a photograph that claimed to be Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. I also love horror movies, so this painting seemed to be the perfect one for me to start while I wasn’t working on anything else. My best friend had passed away and for some reason I thought I should force myself to work on a painting – any painting. But I was so depressed and sad that I actually didn’t paint for 3 years. “Springtime for Dracula” sat on my art table collecting dust. I wanted to work on it, but my interest and incentive were nonexistent.

One day I was looking at the painting differently and I saw gaps in the pale blue sky I left untouched for clouds. The shapes I saw looked like free form daisies, so I put the slightest suggestion of a flower center, carefully highlighting the uneven shape of the flower and added a faint stem and leaves. Whether it looked weird or not, I really enjoyed putting those flowers in the sky. They were related to spring after all, so I sprinkled several flowers throughout the sky wherever I saw a gap in pigment having the right shape. All the flowers I created were potentially there – I saw them just by looking at the sky. They appeared where they belonged. I merely emphasized them.

Creating the flowers for an otherwise stiff and somewhat boring painting was everything to me. They were ultimately the reason why I finished this painting. I’m still not crazy about the way the castle looks, but I think the flowers really add something for people to look at and helping them not to focus so much on my funny looking architecture.

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