Painting a canvas

Artist’s Don’t Know When To Stop

Most people think that the hardest part for any artist is starting something. Staring at a blank, white paper or canvas can be very intimidating, but for me, the hardest part is knowing when to stop. I often keep going when my work is actually finished. This is one of my weaknesses. I have to learn to leave well enough alone. When I keep going my composition gets wonky, my colors get muddled and my piece gets that over-worked quality that is never truly appreciated. If I could find an art contest for overworked pieces I would probably become their poster child. I would win awards and accolades. People would write about me saying, “Nobody knows how to over-work a piece of art like Lillian Connelly. She is the master of pushing things so far they come out as a top-notch disaster!” I have dreams of fame and fortune. Where your art is so bad it is good and people will spend their hard-earned money to own a piece of your work, just so they can put it in their collection of rotten tomato art. That is totally an art category, right? It has to be!

This mermaid painting-collage started out like all of the others.

Painting a canvas
I paint the canvas.


Then I started thinking about the images I wanted to use. I cut them out and started placing them on the canvas board.

Beginning a collage.
Arranging items for the college.

I started gluing items down. At some point I should have stopped, but didn’t. The next thing I knew I had this collage. It’s cluttered. It bugs me.

Mermaid Collage
When collages go too far because Artist’s don’t know when to stop.

I have these two mermaid collages started. I keep hoping I recognize when each piece is finished. I am hoping to become an artist that knows when to stop!

mermaid collage painting. mermaid collage painting




21 thoughts on “Artist’s Don’t Know When To Stop”

        1. One day I may be famous, but never as famous as you…book tours, radio shows…STAGE appearances! Rock on with your bad self, Marianne!

  1. I love the dreamy feeling the third one gives off. I also overwork (at least in oils). I find that if I work on several at a time, I do a little better. I can switch back and forth and make myself step far away and consider each time I switch.

    1. Thank you! I covered it with this paper that has a design, but is also transparent and almost plastic like. I cannot think of the name for it, but the effect is interesting. I often work on several pieces at a time too. I agree, it helps you come back with fresh eyes which makes it easier to evaluate your progress.

  2. It is good to hear you are plagued by this, too. My daughter loves to draw, and is quite good, but it has always bothered me that she so often ruins (to my eyes) her work by not stopping when she (in my opinion) should. It’s like she cannot stand negative space in her work. She just keeps filling it up with more and more motifs until the whole page is so cluttered that you no longer see the beauty or skill of her drawing.

    Knowing that you struggle with the same impulse helps me see that she will be able to control it one day (most of the time), and be able to train her eye to recognize it when it happens.

    Thank you!

    1. I believe it is a learned skill. One that improves with maturity and practice. Kind of like knowing when to stop talking (to be comfortable with silence even when it seems awkward) or when to stop eating dessert (as a kid I would want to eat three pieces of pie). I guess it is about having limits and recognizing when it is time to stop. Even as adults we occasionally miss the mark.

  3. You are a beautiful artist. I think that you create beautiful pieces, and I certainly don’t think your work is cluttered. But I have a cluttered mind, so maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it.

    1. I think with art it can be very subjective. One person finds it overworked or cluttered and another thinks it is perfect. That is very interesting to me. Artists often say that to sell a piece you just have to find that one person…the right person who loves it. This can sometimes make it difficult to decide if there is hope for a piece or if it should just be abandoned!

      Thank you for the encouragement!

  4. I never know when to stop painting. I’ve ruined a few models by overworking effects. I really like seeing your collage process. I hope you do more write ups like this. 🙂

    1. It seems like a common problem. I am planning to do more art posts about process. I think people find it interesting.

  5. Omg! You are sooo right! I don’t think I can ever feel like my work is done. Every painting, I keep working and changing things, then I always end up liking the old version better. Eh, someday we’ll learn… Probably not. Lol!

  6. mermaids! i heart them. i recently read something about them… i think in the book i’m reading, “triburbia.” i’ll look for it and share if i find it. you are having a fun time with those water girls… 🙂

    oh yeah – can you do a charlie’s angels one? i think that would be awesome.

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