"Art is never finished, only abandoned." - Leonardo da Vinci
One of the most frequent questions that I hear as an art teacher and artist is, "How do you know when to stop?" or "How do you know when you are finished?"
For some folks, it is never ending. Think of George Lucas and how often he goes back and reworks his Star Wars films.
Kafka's The Trial and The Castle, Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger and Tolkien's The Silmarillion are literary examples of works that were constantly revised. James Joyce also rewrote his own work and Picasso never "finished" Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.
Look at the vast number of unfinished symphonies out there.
For some folks, it takes years. Some artists that I know like to walk away from work and go back to it when it calls to them. Sometimes it is hours, days, weeks or even many years.
For me, I like to finish one piece before I go onto the next one. I have a hard time focusing on more than one piece of art at a time. I like to step back and ask myself the question, "Have I said everything that I need to say on this page?" I look for a sense of balance and harmony on my pages (in color, line, pattern, shape, etc...) It's intuitive for me but that is only because I have been making art for many, many years. That said, I have been known to make color copies of artwork or even revise the piece completely the next day. I recently revised an entire journal but that's a rare thing for me and it was one where there was no attachment and very little personal journaling.
The more you create, the more you will know what works best for you. It's all about finding your voice, your style, your work patterns. Don't worry about if a piece is finished. Work. Make. Create. Keep pushing. Stop when you feel that you are finished. Go back if you need to.
1. Make color copies of your art and rework those.
2. Date your artwork. You can look back and see how much your work has changed (the more you work, the more your work will evolve.)
3. Don't judge your work right away. Make multiple pieces and then go back and ask yourself what you like or don't like about a piece. Think about how you could have done it differently. Use those ideas on a new piece.
4. Make multiple copies of your collage materials (for example, five copies of the same focal image, and use the same background ephemera.) Explore how many different ways you can create using the exact same materials.
What advice do you have? How do you know when you are finished with a piece?