Sometimes we overwork our art. Sometimes we under-work them. It's easy to get caught up in working too close to the piece but we need to step back once in a while to see the big picture. Once you think you have finished a piece, here are 6 ways to help determine if your piece of art is actually complete - or if it needs more work.

  1. Turn it upside down, then stand across the room to view the piece and look at it from different perspectives. By altering the right side up view, we start to see gaps or disconnects where the piece is not quite finished, where a colour needs to be fixed etc. It's like looking through someone else's eyes.
  2. Hold the art up to a mirror  - try right side up, upside down, sideways. By looking at the mirror image, as in #1 above, we gain a new perspective and can see if and where fixes are needed.
  3. Walk away for a few days, then look at the art through fresh eyes, like seeing it for he first time, and as another viewer sees it. Some suggest to hang it up and live with the picture for a week or more. You will be drawn to parts that need to be fixed.
  4. Ask a friend - There's nothing better than getting a second opinion. Just make sure it's someone who will be honest in a positive way, and not be afraid to critique and possibly hurt your feelings. "I love it!" is wonderful to hear but not always helpful.
  5. You realize you're bored with the piece - It may be unfinished, but perhaps you have gotten out of it what you needed to learn. Decide if you want or need to finish it. If not, move on.
  6. Trust your intuition - As you get more experienced in art-making, you'll start to sense if it's finished or if something still needs to be fixed. Then turn to the suggestions above to figure out what needs to be done.


"Music is full of longing and movement.  Painting should be the same." I read this quote in Hundred and Thousands: The Journals of...