Many visual artists have no particular trouble starting pieces but lots of trouble finishing them. Why is finishing a work of art problematic for so many artists? In this series we’ll look at twelve reasons. Here’s reason number eleven:

Reason 11. The hard bits won’t come.

Even if you successfully complete 99% of your work of art, if 1% remains that isn’t working or that doesn’t satisfy you then that work of art remains incomplete in your own estimation.

What do artists try to do in this situation? Here are some things they try:

+ Some have the happy experience of returning to that 1% and the solution suddenly presents itself.

+ Some decide to “keep fussing with” the troubled area, maybe finally bringing it to completion or maybe making a mess of the whole thing.

+ Some decide to call the work of art “finished for now” and put it out in the world with that nagging 1% still lacking.

+ Some decide to step away from the work of art for a period of time, either in the hopes that when they come back to it they will know what to do or that when they come back to it the problem will have vanished of its own accord.

+ Some abandon the work altogether and number it among those creative efforts that didn’t quite pan out.

There is no perfect solution to this natural dilemma. It is simply the case that sometimes a part of the thing we are working on isn’t coming around. Because this is true so often, many of our creative efforts are held hostage to this problem. When your work of art is 99% done and 1% remains recalcitrant and intractable, what tactics will you employ to get to the end?

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