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When Is A Painting Finished?

This is an age old question, when is a painting finished? An image I posted on Instagram recently is of a painting that I finished some time ago. I painted the work as you see it now in the horizontal format. However, after I finished creating it, I kept looking at it and thinking something was missing. 'There's something I'm not getting about this painting.' Now when I first began the painting I was using couple of photographs of cliffs at Hahei in New Zealand.

My intention was to paint an abstract painting, not something that I'd had much practice in, at that time. So I took the painting to the stage that we see in the picture here and then I just had this feeling that it wasn't finished, although it looked like it was. I had no clue what else to do to it!

So a few days later I came back and sat down in front of it and looked at it some more. During this later viewing, I received an intuitive message to turn the painting around which I did. Well, you can imagine my surprise when all of a sudden there were figures in the painting. "WHAT!!" I said to myself. "How did this happen, I was trying to paint an abstractand and instead I've ended up with a hooded female figure sitting on a rock who is facing us and has her back to a male figure at the back of the painting. This male figure is also looking out of the painting but not at us we are only seeing his back. Then in the immediate foreground on the right hand side, there's a rather overweight plump sort of a figure."

I have to say this kind of freaked me out, because so much about the figures in this painting represented how I was feeling at that point in my life. It was actually like a self portrait. So much for painting an abstract painting I thought. What I find really interesting about this story was my absolute conviction that the painting wasn't finished in the horizontal position, even though I kept looking at it and couldn't see where I could add, even a single brushstroke. This was definitely a lesson in learning to listen to my intuition about what the painting was telling me. In this case, the painting had a deep message for me. And in fact, you know, I have found over the years, that if I'm prepared to listen to the work, that this has always been the case. So it is now part of my art practice, to sit down in front of the painting after I have finished it, get present, and write down the information that comes to me regarding the deeper meanings of the particular painting.

If you haven't ever tried this I suggest you give it a go. In fact this is often how I find a name for my paintings. The information that comes out contains teh seed of the title for the work.

How do you name your works? Please share below as I'm sure others will be interested.

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