When is a painting done in terms of learning

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    Dimitrios Gkouskos


    This topic has likely been discussed before but I am curious to hear this group’s and Matt’s thoughts on this.
    I was talking to a friend recently who asked me the age-old question: “How do you know a painting of yours is done”.

    I answered that my main goal with every drawing and painting is to learn something and improve as an artist. So when I feel that I have learned all I can from a piece, I stop and move on to the next thing.

    But how do I know that I’ve learned all I can? How do I know I’m not just hitting a learning plateau after which there is more to learn, if I only continue to work on the piece? I have an inclination to work on each piece about 5 hours give or take (mostly take).

    Usually I find a reference, maybe do a quick value study and then go on to the main painting.

    This time around I have tried to change my process. I’m working on a boat piece and I’ve already painted one value study, one “drawing accuracy” study and one more “general rehearsal” study (the general rehearsal study is the piece I submitted to for critique this week). I’ll attach photos of my studies so far. From left to right we have the value study, the drawing accuracy study, and the full rehearsal study. I have to say I do feel it is beneficial to practice the same piece several times. I’ve noticed I tend to mess up the side of the boat that is turning away, I assume because the foreshortening is the greatest there.

    Looking forward to hearing what you think about this . To recap
    1. How do you practice ? Do you paint or draw the same reference multiple times ?
    2. How do you know you’ve learned all you can from a piece?

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    Arjun Khode

    Hi Dimitrios!

    In my opinion, it all depends on your role-model that you’re trying to emulate. For example, Alvaro Castagnet might finish his watercolor piece just like that in 2 hours and it still looks gorgeous.

    About doing the drawing over again, absolutely! I was just looking at all the timelapses of my works till date and I realized that anytime I razed whole or majority of a drawing and did it over again, those drawings turned out to be some of my best drawings.

    Lastly, I know I’ve learned from a piece when I’ve made one of my biggest mistakes ever in it.

    I just composed a few points I learned from critiquing my own artworks this week. I am thinking of posting the list in the forums later today.




    Listen to tonight’s podcast, it should help.


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