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 seven:
Reason 7. Lingering Doubts
It’s very hard for most people not to doubt themselves sometimes—and especially when it comes time to saying that a thing is successfully completed.
An artist finishes a painting and almost instantly his mind throws up a doubt or some other unhelpful thought of the following sort:
+ “Maybe I should do more because there’s always more to do.”
+ “Maybe I’m done but am I really 100% certain about that cast shadow on the right?”
+ “Maybe I’m done but it doesn’t exactly look like what I had in mind for this painting.”
+ “Maybe I’m done but have I really answered all those objections raised by that gallery owner
in London about whether I’m successfully cultivating a unique painting style?”
+ “Maybe I’m done but a painting is never really done, so how can I say that I’m done?”
+ “Maybe I’m done but wouldn’t just a little bit there and a little bit there improve it?”
+ “Maybe I’m done, but … ”
If one of these is the habitual way your mind plays tricks on you and keeps you from completing things in a timely and appropriate way, it is your job to get a grip on your mind. When you hear yourself doubting yourself in one of these unfortunate ways, exclaim, “No! I know that thought! It doesn’t serve me and I don’t want it! No, you darn thought, no!”
Who but you is in a position to put doubts of these sorts to rest? If you are plagued by doubts that are the equivalent of you experiencing some ambient anxiety and, as a consequence, pestering yourself unnecessarily, those doubts you must silence instantly!
As a visual artist, I can relate to a lot of these troubling “thoughts”, but then I have to keep in mind that, that’s all they really are is just thoughts! Ah to be an artist is much more than shaping that beautiful canvas into a masterpiece. It’s also telling a story… What do angels and artists have in common?… Thier work is never done.