Ep 42 Knowing when a Piece of Art is Finished

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As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

Sandra wasn’t entirely sure it was Da Vinci, but we’ve checked it now… Phew…she was right

Today we are talking about how to recognise when your piece of art is ready to be abandoned. Not knowing when to stop can be the difference between a beautiful piece of work, and something that is overworked and almost sterile.

Some of the things we discuss:

  • How timed sketches might help you decide what’s important (Sandra loves these 😉 )
  • The idea of timed intervals for your work
  • What you need to stand back and look at your work
  • Leaving your work and coming back with fresh eyes
  • The idea of one of our group members for how to make copies of your drawings to paint
  • How different media make a difference to how much you can rework your art
  • Why if you start thinking about things to add to your work, you might already have gone too far
  • The idea of using a mirror, not to look at your gorgeous face (mwah, mwah) but the reflection of your art in it

This week’s creative question

Q. What’s most important to you, the creative process or the outcome and why?

Q What's most important to you the creative process or the outcome?

The best answers will be read out on the next joint podcast.

You can Tweet us your answers @KickCreatives or let us know in the Facebook Group, which by the way if you haven’t already joined, I highly recommend that you do! We will put the question up there and also on the facebook page… and of course, on our Instagram page @kickinthecreatives.

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If you have any suggestions for the podcast or our challenges please feel free to get in touch.


To see the podcast show outline click here

EP 42:
Knowing When Your Piece of Art is Finished.
(Record 07/08, airs 19/08)

Welcome everyone to the show.

Thank everyone who’s been sharing their work on social media

Podcast Reviews


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Say what’s caught my eye

Ask Tara what’s caught hers

Respond to above.

Maybe you could mention the postcard swap and how great it was to see people in the group connecting?

Ask Sandra what’s new


Respond to above.

Sketching trip – Brighton

Ask Tara what’s new


Respond to above

Tell everyone about the T-shirts and notebooks on amazon?


As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

So today we are talking about how to recognise when your piece of art is ready to be abandoned, to avoid overworking your art.

And that is something we see a lot in the art world. I’ve been very guilty of it myself in the past, certainly in my sketchbook, although thankfully I have gone more the other way these days I think.

But not knowing when to stop can be the difference between a beautiful piece of work, and something that is overworked and almost sterile.


You and I have always been very different in our approach in that you have always loved to get lost in detail, whereas I bore easily. But I think there is a happy medium because I’ve always wished I had more patience, whereas you’ve always wanted to be looser in your approach. But I think through working together creatively for so long, we have both changed a lot in that way.

Talk about how you have changed
Talk about how you’ve noticed a difference in my own approach to sketching


I’m talking specifically about sketching because I’ve no wish to change my style of painting, but yes, I think partly it’s us doing a lot together including trips out dedicated to sketching and also the fact that I do it so much more than I used to and I think that’s where confidence comes in to it.

Once you are comfortable with making mistakes and just playing with lines until they are right, you will naturally end up with a looser and more energetic piece.

The hardest part then is knowing where to stop.


One of the reasons I like timed sketches is that they don’t give you time to fiddle around and overwork. Even if you are working on a more detailed piece, setting timed intervals to make yourself stand back and look at what stage you’re at might help.



Of course, as you know, I hate doing timed sketches, but when I have no pressure, I can easily create a sketch in a minute or two now because I just don’t over think it anymore. I’ve learned that it’s a big mistake to go back to a sketch and add something to it. Once you start, you’re on the way to losing it’s energetic and spontaneous feel.


I did a black and white semi-abstract face drawing in my sketchbook recently. I really liked it, but then decided to try adding colour. But it tried adding colour and it didn’t work. it doesn’t really matter as it was just a sketch and my sketchbook is for trying things. But I think the moral is, if you like something leave it.


Talk about the suggestion in our group to create a copy to paint.
Talk about interesting suggestions in upcoming interview with Barbara Johansen Newman


Less is usually more. Some of my favourite sketches are the ones where I haven’t even added a face. For the most part, when it comes to sketching, you’re aiming to express the feel of the scenario, rather than the perfect image of what you’re looking at.


Some media is much easier to overwork that others. With acrylic you can keep adding layers, but with watercolours it’s much easier to make a muddy mess, so you need to be more careful.


Suggest going in much stronger than you think with watercolour and using only transparent colours

When it comes to my paintings I have learned over time that when I lay a brushstroke that doesn’t make a difference for better or for worse, that’s usually the time to stop.

If I’m in doubt, I stop, turn it against a wall and look at it a week later with fresh eyes. If nothing is immediately obvious, then I leave it right there.


If I like how something is looking that’s usually time to stop.

But it can be interesting to photograph your work in stages, then even if you do take things too far you can learn from your mistakes and see where you should have stopped.


If in doubt, leave it out.

Turn your painting to the wall and don’t look at it for at least a week.

Explain how this helps.


When I am working on a design piece and I start to think about what can I add to make this work, I know I need to stop and rethink. It’s the same with art once you get to the point where you think what else can I add to this to make it work you’ve usually gone too far.


One common mistake artists often make is they stay too close to their art as the work without stepping right back.

Explain why stepping back and viewing from a distance is a good idea.


The good thing is, the more you do, the more confident you will become in your choices and where you choose to finish.

Finally read out the answers to our previous question…

The question was…

Q. What does your typical creative day look like?

Julie Kitzes Waking up at 7am, wandering over to my desk, and hopping straight into about five different projects before I even eat or shower.

MJ Stead Up by 7, coffee, shower, dog park and paint in the studio from 12-12:30 – 5 or 6pm. I often go back in to paint after dinner too.

Ben King Up at 630 with my now 1 year old son, work by 8, draw during lunch from noon to 1pm, home by 5, baby in bed around 830-9, a little more drawing of I’m not prepping a lesson.

Nik TayTay West Wake. Stretch: timed sketches. Flex: wip. Cardio: commissions. Endurance: graphic design. Torture: Etsy listings. Play: photography. Relaxation: doodles. Sleep.

Mummsy Savo Wake, shower volunteer work at local Hospiscare shop, check phone, look for inspiration. After dinner cooked by Himself cover the table with all my materials and start straight into a drawing

Veena Madhu Work from 9-5:30ish, trying to fit creative activities around it 🙂 spend train rides either messing on music apps or listening to instrumentals and writing lyrics to them. Some graphic design study at night, some drawing/ painting on weekends. Ideally would like them to go hand in hand, one art form inspiring another.

Colin Pidgeon Up 6.30. Work 8-4.30 (paint at lunchtime sometimes), home to chores, sort oout kids etc. Paint from 9.30 – 1am or so. Go to bed with bleary eyes and a sore back…

Deb Saine art! art! and then, more art!

Susan Simon Sweetlineart I get the brushes I love and the watercolors, cut 90 lb hot press into a small sheet and paint a dog


And we have a brand new question for you, which is:

Q. What’s most important to you? The creative process or the outcome and why?


As always you can Tweet us your answers at KickCreatives or let us know in the facebook group, which by the way if you haven’t already joined, I highly recommend that you do! We will put the question up there and also on the facebook page… and of course on our Instagram page, kick in the creatives.

Before we go, we just want to mention the challenges we have coming up for September

Read them out.

Sketchathon September
So it’s September already and that Sketchbook that you promised yourself you would fill this year has gathered an entire inch of dust, each page remaining completely blank. Well now is the time to change that! We are challenging you to fill at least one page of your sketchbook every day throughout the month. The object here is to form a sketching habit and to finally make that sketchbook something interesting to look at!

Introducing our brand new, motivational challenge, Quotember.

We are challenging you to create an inspirational quote, using unusual text, such as calligraphy, or your own unique font style, every day throughout the month of September.

Imagine how many people you will inspire with your words each day, including yourself!

This is the challenge to help you train your mind, and others, to think more positively.

Quick Kick September
“Quick Kicks” are our monthly creative challenges that you can complete in 15 minutes or less per day. For ‘Quick Kick September’ we are challenging you to create a blind contour drawing/painting every day of the month. To create a blind contour drawing simply decide on your subject. This could be anything you like: a still life, a friends face or something in a reference photo. Then draw your subject by studying it carefully but DO NOT look at your paper as you draw.

Kicktime September

KickTime is our monthly challenge designed for those creatives who would prefer to sink their teeth into one big project over the whole month, rather than to take part in lots of smaller ones.

And it’s designed for any kind of creative project. We will give you a prompt each month and you can use it to inspire a story, a poem, a piece of art, a piece of music, an animation, a film, a screen play… The list is endless!

The best part is that you get to work on any creative project, which is inspired by that word, for a whole month. This months prompt is “Metal”


Don’t forget to pop over to our website at kickinthecreatives.com to find out how you can take part in some of our upcoming creative challenges! And of course there you can also subscribe to the Podcast, so you never miss an episode… And if you are enjoying the Podcast, we’d be so grateful if you would leave us a little review on iTunes, or even just a star rating if you don’t have much time.


Also, don’t forget to check out and subscribe to our Weekly Youtube videos, ‘Art Kick Sunday.’ The videos are light-hearted and fun, but also genuinely informative too. So if you want a chuckle, check out the ones we’ve aired so far

We’ve now got a Youtube Channel where we put up a new Art Video every Sunday.
Subscribe to our channel and click the notifications bell to be alerted on all our new videos.

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