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One of the things I think about toward the end of a painting or a sketch is when I should stop. Finishing can be a little tricky sometimes. I want to "finish" the painting but at the same time I don't want to over work it. Over working it amounts to me meddling with the painting until I've taken the life out of it. The variety and freshness of the painting are lost. The ideal painting in my mind is one that is complete in it's statement with a degree of variety and immediacy in the brush strokes. Sometimes I feel I get this right other times... well I don't.
This morning I came across a quote by Robert Henri where he compares two great artists and their view of "finish" in a painting. He said, "The demand we so often hear for finish is not for finish, but is for the expected. Judging a Manet from the point of view of Bouguereau the Manet has not been finished. Judging a Bouguereau from the point of view of Manet the Bouguereau has not been begun."
Comparing these two great artists you can see how both artists define "finish" from different ends of the spectrum. William Bouguereau's take on finish was a highly detailed almost photographic appearance while Édouard Manet's take was simple shapes, colors and values.