Leonardo da Vinci is credited with the statement, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” It is this quote that captures the devotion but also the impossibility of completed artwork. At some point, the work on a piece must end, but the artist never really stops.
The Idea Never Dies
My artwork begins in the mind unless it is an outdoor setting (en plein aire), but it can also take shape once my brush hits the canvas. No matter how it begins, once it is started, it takes on a life of its own. The art drives my hand, and then my mind feeds the overall idea. The connection between the art and the artist is a lasting relationship, and it grows stronger as my painting develops. The idea becomes a part of me that is as lasting as a marriage.
Unfortunately, in order for a piece of artwork to be “completed,” I must turn my back to it, and this is impossible in its entirety. Sure, I may remove the brush from my canvas and set it aside, but the painting continues to grow and expand in my mind. The art does not stop simply because I put down the brush.
The art cannot end…which is why I must begin a new piece immediately. In order to stop working on one piece, another painting must commence. It isn’t a replacement, but it does distract me from the residual attachment the old art holds in my mind. Pretty soon, I have a collection of fantastic ideas that have never died, but they have been abandoned out of necessity. It becomes a life’s work; or a series.
Some Work is Never Abandoned
Famous French artist Rodin created his infamous work, The Gates of Hell, and he was supposed to be finished with it by 1885, as it was a commissioned piece. He didn’t finish in this 5-year time frame, and he actually ended up working on it for 37 years until his death. It looks complete. However, Rodin’s death was the only way that a piece of this magnitude could be completed. When you stand next to it, you understand why it could never be finished. It is a piece that’s concept is practically biblical. It warranted the perfecting qualities of eternity, and Rodin gave it his life.
Every piece of artwork has a different magnitude as far as its impact on the artist and its audience. But each piece has a lasting impact, and that is why an artist never stops creating new pieces. One piece continues until another takes its place. But each one remains (at least in part), and accompanies an artist on the rest of their journey. When I’m asked “Which of your pieces is your FAVORITE?”…my response is “the one I just finished”; however, my artwork is like bearing a child, I love them all…they are all a part of my DNA.
Like Rodin, I hope to paint until my last breathe.