I spend a lot of time trying to get people to paint. But sometimes it is time to STOP PAINTING. Not just when you are late for work or starving to death. There are times in the painting process where you will become your own enemy if you continue to paint.
The most common time that one should stop painting is when you are on a deadline trying to finish a painting. There may be rare occasions where someone is waiting impatiently with a thousand dollars in their hand for you to finish a commission, but most of the time there should not be any kind of deadline involved with painting. Thoughts of “let me just finish this one section so I feel I accomplished something today” can be danger signs that you are willing to do that section slightly less than optimally in order to get that quantity satisfaction.
Another time to stop painting is near a finishing point on a painting. If you are not sure if you are finished or not, stop! Revisit the painting much later and see if you were actually finished, and had you kept going when you were not sure, probably would have ruined it with too much guesswork.
Should you stop painting when you are tired? Of course don’t go too long without taking care of yourself, but fatigue itself can be ignored if you are on a roll and magic is happening. Push harder at that point, and your confidence will overcome any hesitation that interrupts a clear vision you are having about where to go next.
Stop painting, too, in these situations:
1. You got a bad start and know you will be soon loosing interest in the painting. Instead, stop and do something else for a while like look at art or nature, Then begin again later.
2. You keep feeling distracted by something else you are supposed to be doing, so you cannot concentrate enough to continue. Instead do the chore and then come back later.
3. When you are angry at your painting. Things are not going your way, the way you had anticipated the painting going. Stop and come back another day and you will then hear the painting “talking “ to you about a new direction it wants to take. Follow that.
4. Stop painting altogether when you are consistently bored with your projects. You can stop for months or more, and don’t go back to painting until you feel inspired. How to become inspired? Look at other art and beautiful things and mentally take notes ( or on your iPhone or notebook) of any fragments of thoughts or ideas that may develop into inspiration: the lighting on a late afternoon, an interesting color combination. You will eventually go back to some art form that will be filled with excitement.