La Montagne Sainte Victoire vue des Lauves, 1901 – 06, Paul Cézanne
Is an artwork ever finished? Some artist can say yes, sign it, and let it go out into the world. Others, unless (it goes into the world) will keep changing and refining it. So we have finish as in “complete” and finish as in “process.”
When I did a little research I found that Paul Cézanne was among the painters who left so many paintings incomplete. One historian blamed some of this on his analytical methods and his use of thickly placed layers of paint since it likely took months to finish any piece. But editors of a book called Cezanne Finished- Unfinished explain that the unfinished areas were possibly experimental at first but were later deliberate and provide us with insight into his creative process.
This all started because I am constantly “finishing”—one of those who fits both definitions. Luckily, I don’t “finish” as in process (a cold wax rub for my paintings) because if it’s hanging in the studio I keep refining. Just a few days ago I decided that a small portion of a large painting wasn’t right, a painting that had been there for at least a couple months. I was disturbed that a shape in the corner seemed to lead your eye off the page. At least it was an easy fix and had not gone to a gallery or show.
Harder than “finishing” the painting will be photographing the “newly finished” piece.