Completing a painting, or “knowing when to stop”, is definitely an acquired skill. As figure painter extraordinaire Ted Nuttall says, the same painting has dozens of stopping places. The one you choose is the one that says what you wanted to say.

Below, I have a painting that I am really excited about. Thinking I was done, I took a photo of it only to find that I’m not. Quite. So I decided to post it and show you what it looks like in the before form, then add the after as soon as I finish it.

PeaceLikeARiverAlmostAdjIn this color version, you can see that the balance of greens is a little off on the right side of the barn. The trees need a bit of pure hue for balance of color and balance of value. I will probably also tone down the whites in the top treeline on the right side just a bit.


PeaceLikeARiverAlmostBWThe imbalance is a little harder to see in the black-and-white version, but it’s there. The very subtlety of it is a warning not to overdo when I add my greens.



And the final version! I did increase the values in the shadowed parts of the trees to the right and across the foreground. I also knocked off the small bits of white in the top treeline so they don't compete with the center of interest. Now the eye travels through the whole painting, lingering a little longer on the focal point instead of staying in the top half. Success!


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