Think, Plan, Do and Reflect

I am reading an article and interview about Ward Schell. I like big canvases too but this is a little crazy. It’s the background for a diorama. There are two things in the article that jump out at me. The first is ‘think, plan, do and reflect’. I believe I have the ‘think, plan, do’ part covered, it’s ‘reflect’ that snags me. I can reflect for a very long time and it’s often not helpful. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. This is where his other statement applies, stop (or at least consider stopping) when the work is 80% done. I’ve often found that I estimate that I have another weeks work to do on a painting (remember that I am slow) but two days later I am finished. Finished means that I can’t see anything else to do on the painting or I don’t think that doing more will add anything. Deciding when a painting is finished has been a problem for me for many years. If I sit and ‘reflect’ for an hour or so and I can’t see anything to add, change or enhance that will add to the painting, then I am finished.

Stopping at 80% is important. I don’t interpret this to mean leaving a painting unfinished, I could continue work on a painting until it is almost photorealistic but that is not what I want. I think the painting should still look like a painting but generate an illusion of reality. Many artists overwork their paintings. If a painting portrays the scene adequately then it is finished. Perhaps this advice should say ‘Reflect at 80%’.