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 four:

Reason 4. Fear of losing your happy place

You’re doing a series of red paintings. All that red is making you happy, buoyant and joyful. You have it in your mind that you will do a blue series next; and while that makes sense to you intellectually and aesthetically, it doesn’t move your heart much. All this red feels wonderful to you; the coming blue feels a little cool, verging on cold. So as to keep this loving feeling alive, you decide just out of conscious awareness not to finish these red paintings. You just want a little more time with them!

Or maybe you’re painting a complicated cityscape and you simply love the city that you’re translating and transcribing. You love its shapes, its resonances, its history, and its shadows—you love everything about it. So you decide, just out of conscious awareness, to keep adding to the scene—because you don’t want to leave it. In this way you keep at this painting far longer than you “really” need to—maybe even to the point of ruining it with too many objects and too much attention.

The mantra to remember is that more love is available. Maybe the blue series will indeed prove cooler than the red series—but maybe the yellow series that comes after the blue series will bring back fiery passion. Maybe this cityscape is indeed enthralling—but the next one might enthrall you, too. You may have to mourn leaving this happy place, but leave it you must—for the sake of completing your works of art and for the sake of new loves to come.

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