12 May, 2010

Overdoing It


P5090233-1.jpg picture by caseyklahn
Studio Life
Overdoing It

Artists always want to know when a painting is finished.  A questioner once asked Wolf Kahn when he considers his painting finished.  Kahn said, "When it is no longer a royal pain in the ass to me."  Intuitive art is often a process of painting oneself into trouble, and finding the way out again.

I wrote recently about reclaiming sanded paper.  I have been taking used paper from my "failed paintings" pile and re-working the images.  The great thing I have discovered is that when I start out with a ghost image, I begin the process already in trouble!

21 comments:

Kathy said...

All through my developing years as an artist I was concerned with determining when a painting is "done." More recently, I've found that I know. I think it comes with experience, with understanding that if I add one more thing it won't help and may even detract.

Casey Klahn said...

Wisdom shared. Thanks, Kathy.

And part of this theme of "overdoing it" is the "do over" aspect, where I paint over a failed image, and another aspect is how much can I "overwork" the image and still say something good or important.

Lisa McShane said...

All so true! And something I thought about for awhile today, staring at a painting and trying to decide if it was finished. I finally said yes, done. What's the Italian phrase? Basta!

Bridget Hunter said...

I struggle with knowing when to stop. And I definately overcook then wait a few days, go back and try again over the original painting. The trouble is the paint layers can become too thick! Ah well.

-Don said...

I've found myself to be more of an 'underdo it' sort. I like getting to the point where it feels almost finished and then call it done. In most cases I've been happy with the results. As part of this process, I make sure to let the 'finished' piece sit untouched overnight before I make my final decision about it.

One of the coolest observations made about my work was that I allow the viewer to finish the painting in their mind.

I really like what you wrote about the process of painting oneself into and then out of trouble. I honestly HATE every piece sometime in the creative process, but I refuse to give up on any of them - always finding my way back to loving them.

-Don

Kathy said...

A "do over" is rewarding! When you can take something that failed and improve it then you know you've matured as an artist. Overworking is tricky, so I admire your ability to do this and still succeed.

Janelle Goodwin said...

Oh dear, there's nothing worse than an overworked painting. I always try to leave it a little unfinished :)

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Add to that, the maturing and shifting of your own artistic sensibility and you have even more trouble from which to work your/my way! Never dull with art!

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for the comments, Lisa, Don, Bridget, Janelle and Kvan. There seems to be some consensus that overdone work is often bad. That's just more reason to keep doing it, IMHO. I want to see why, and sometimes I discover things I wouldn't have said with perfection.

If the painting fails, I can try with a new perspective and a clean sheet of paper next time.

Maybe there needs to be a whole post about things learned with mud.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for the extra comment, Kathy. Sometimes I do succeed, and I would say the most reward is just learning new things - good painting or not.

SamArtDog said...

Interesting discussion. Thanks for being the provocateur, Casey. I learn so much from watching you fearlessly make the trip through the looking glass, as well as your record of what you see during the in-and-out of perfection.

Casey Klahn said...

Oh, I struggled with fear this year - still will some more, I reckon. Happily, the art coming out of my studio right now returns to the very abstracted landscape. In the zone to my way of thinking, and I am very happy about that.
Thanks, Sam!

Yellow said...

I am having trouble ghoing back to paintings which I've put a lot into but still aren't quite there. I fear ruining the small amount of good I'm done in trying to amend the bad. But I suppose I have nothing to loose. Working in oils at the moment I find it helpful to 'tonk' off in the morning so the paint I'm working over isn't so thick and gloopy. I suppose I could 'tonk' pastel with a hoover attachement.

Casey Klahn said...

Steph, the precious part of the painting can sometimes stop all progress. I would try to kill the precious thing as soon as possible. Things will work out!

Yellow said...

My sister always says 'kill the precious thing' too. Being precious or trying for perfection is crippling. That's why I often listen to mad music while I work - if I find I'm getting all tight and tense, then a whirl round the room loosens me up inside and out. Hmm, can I picture your doing a swirly dance to Bjork? Maybe.

layers said...

after 30 years of painting I still don't always know-- I eventually get to a point where I can't find one more place for a brush stroke-- and then 3 days later I find small changes to make

Casey Klahn said...

Sounds like intent is a big part of your motivation. Not rules so much.

Thanks, Donna.

Jala Pfaff said...

Ooo, beauty! So glad you stopped when you did on this one!

I'm afraid SamArtDog and I don't quite believe it's possible to put Turpenoid on LaCarte. Please elaborate?

Casey Klahn said...

That's part of the problem. I don't remember who talked me into it first. Sheila Evans? Susan Ogilvie? Anyway, someone did, and it works fine.
I'll continue to try to find that reference I found online once.

Loriann asked me about it, and I went for confirmation and did find it. Basically, the vegetable matter is dissolved all the way through by water (white goo) but not by the solvent Turpenoid.

You get a wash. Try it - you'll like it!

Linda Packard said...

Some of my most successful paintings have happened from either completely painting over an old oil, or from re-claiming a piece of Wallis paper...having rubbed off the unsuccessful painting. The ghosting left leaves marks that give me something to respond to without intent...takes away the "fear" of that blank canvas or paper. Thanks for this thread of posts. Very interesting. I love your blog, Casey.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for reading my blog, Linda!

I'm wanting to do a post on the ghosting images behind paintings.

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