How To Know When Your Art Is Done

One of the things you may struggle with is knowing when your art is done.

Knowing when to stop working on your drawing or painting so you don't overwork and ruin it.

It may provide some comfort to realize this is one of the eternal challenges all artists face at every level of experience.

Unfortunately, pencils and paints don't come with manuals that tell you when your art is done.

Knowing When Your Art Is Done

Learning when to stop is part of learning to be an artist.

And learning to be an artist is really about learning to know yourself – what subjects motivate you the most, what way of working feels best and provides you the most pleasure and…

What behaviors have you observed in the past just before you ruin something?

Since each of us is different, I can't give you absolutely foolproof advice.

But, let me describe some of the things I've observed about myself over the years that begin to tell me to lay down my brush or pencil.

I've observed that my inclination to add just a bit more detail is something I have to continually fight.

I've learned to fight this inclination after ruining far too many paintings and drawings by including stuff that wasn't necessary.


I've observed that as a piece of art progresses, I tend to stare at it more and admire the parts I like most.

I've learned that when I start doing this, I need to get a more objective view. I need to turn it upside down or look at it in a mirror to see if it really is coming along as well as I think.

And lastly, I've observed that as I near the end I have a tendency to "noodle".

That's my term for beginning to put in more little spots of color or more little details for no particular reason.

I've learned that when I start wanting to do that, it is time to cover the art or turn it to the wall and not look at it for a day or two.

Because I'm usually very near or at the point of being finished.

So, I suggest you start observing your own behaviors. I'm willing to bet they are giving you little clues as to when your art is done.

Best Wishes,
Gary Gumble
Founder of BeginningArtist.com
Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable. (George Bernard Shaw)

P.S. How do you tell when your art is done, and you shouldn't do anything more to it?

What have you found that works for you in this regard?

Send me an email at info@beginningartist.com describing how you decide your drawing or painting is done.

I'd like to pass these suggestions along to other readers of this blog who may be struggling with this.

P.P.S. Have a friend who would enjoy this article? Send it to them and invite them to join my blog. Click here to Subscribe.