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 two:

Reason 2. Not ready to start showing and experience all that potential criticism, silence and rejection

While you are working on your current piece, you can say to anyone who inquires about it and who asks to see it, “Sorry, it’s not finished yet.” If they beg, you can hold your ground and repeat your message: “Sorry, it disrupts my process if I show things before they’re done.” But how can you refuse them once you call the work done? What reason can you possibly offer up that doesn’t make it clear that you’re balking simply because you fear a cruel remark or an indifferent response? Once you affirm that your current work of art is done, you don’t really have a leg to stand on if you try to keep it hidden.

Since artists know that they don’t have a leg to stand on once they finish their work of art, they contrive a great solution: they don’t finish it. They may get “very near” to the end on many paintings but, by virtue of not having completed any of them, achieve their half-conscious goal: they can righteously announce that they have nothing to show yet. In this way they keep all possible criticism, rejection, and negativity at bay.

The better solution is to grow a thicker skin and get easier—much easier—with letting your works of art out into the world. Yes, since every work of art is disliked by someone, it is indeed the case that some negativity is bound to come your way. Accept that; surrender to that truth; and finish your work and show it.

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