I have an article called Do You Struggle to Finish Your Art. In it, I talk about different reasons people may struggle to finish and what they can do about it.
But I think there is actually something else going on that is much more insidious when we catch ourselves feeling shame or guilt for having a bunch of unfinished art. So when Annie posted,
Hi! I have like 10(I know, TEN?!) unfinished paintings and they really stress me out.
With school, dance, and lots of other priorities, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to finish them. and worse, I get new ideas ALL THE TIME.I’m not that good of an artist, so I don’t want to go really fast and mess them all up, but I can get impatient while doing them.Any tips? btw, I love your blog post! Have a great day!-Overwhelmed Artist
I had to offer another piece to this conversation. I popped on FB Live and here is what I had to say:
I hope you now see the REAL reason you struggle to finish your art… is because you are an artist! And it’s actually completely natural to have unfinished, even never finished, art.
Whats your take? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!
Personality can be a big one in why a person doesn’t complete their projects. (I have a ton of unfinished projects!) As you pointed out why fight it, go with the flow that works for you and the experience/lesson in the process. Moving on, moving back, moving sideways. It’s all positive motion/emotion.
Exactly! Thanks for sharing Evelyn <3
My biggest problem is utilizing my natural inclination to make art that has a particular theme. A theme or subject matter that unites it into a specific topic.
Although, lately I have been making a series.
Val, working in series does exactly that. Do you feel like ALL of your work has to stick to the one theme? Or is it feeling bogged down by one theme?
I do have several unfinished paintings . Those are the result of taking a “paint like me” class. Either I did not like the paintings or I never finished and had no incentive to finish the piece. I have kept them and use gouache on them and have a fresh canvas for the time when I need one for a new painting. Moving on. Looking back, I have learned a lot in the last 3 years and hope to continue learning the rest of my painting life. Not learning is not good for people in general and artists in particular.
Sometimes we just don’t want to finish a work. And that’s ok, good even, because it means we know what we want and like and what we don’t. AND YAY for lifelong learning! I couldn’t agree more. <3
Leonardo da Vinci had loads of unfinished paintings hanging around and his customers often moaned that he took forever to complete work. And he was a genius! If he could do it, so can we!
I also have multiple interests and hobbies so it’s difficult to keep up with artistic creativity. Apart from being an artist, I’m also a writer. I write articles and I’m editing a very lengthy novel which I intend to finish this year or next!
Apart from all that I love boating, the wild west, steampunk, travel, gardening, archery… you name it…
So all this has to fit in around everything else!
And that’s OK. That’s part of what I hope people can embrace and realize.
I have paintings from years ago that are in various stages of development. I think they remain unfinished because I got stuck at some point and did not know what to do next. I may have been distracted by other things going on too. The issue is most likely inexperience plus limited basic art skills.
The other thing Carol I’d like you to see: maybe it’s not about inexperience of lack of skill. Leonard da Vinci finished less than 35 artworks in his entire lifetime and we certainly don’t use those words to describe him! Maybe having unfinished art is purely a sign of being an artist!
I found this topic very close to my thinking. I worked in graphic design and production for over 25 years and finishing a project and on time was critical. I have oodles and oodles of unfinished pieces that can haunt me if I allow them to generate guilt. I do tend to work in series because I seem to always have something more to say than the initial piece held. I also get concerned because I seem to like to work on similar themes and wonder if that is me being stuck in one place? I have paintings of the same subject matter over several years (truth be known, decades) I am still drawn to them. Like I said, maybe I still have something to explore and say about them.
“I also get concerned because I seem to like to work on similar themes and wonder if that is me being stuck in one place?”
I think art is about investigation and often a single artwork, or even a few won’t actually get us the results or the answers we are looking for – I think series are a wonderful way to build a unique voice, some consistency into your art, and really let you dig into an idea and consider iterations.