adapted from the instagram
Out of the unfinished works I have seen throughout my meandering across different artworks. It is the ‘unfinished’ ones that seem to stick out to me more than the rest. Perhaps because we are seeing an essence of the artist, and due to the time of creation, they were forced to ‘smooth’ the edges - to be more fitting for the ‘art of the time’.
So, in these unfinished works, (and the same can be said about sketches and rough preliminary drawings), we have something irrefutably unique. A work in progress, a seed not yet hatched… The possibility of anything. The seed could surely grow into the heavens just like the beanstalk.
Gustave Courbet, “The Man Made Mad with Fear” - unfinished self portrait. 1843-1845
Left to right:
Frida Kahlo, Unfinished Self Portrait. 1932
“Sometimes I sketch out a work on a canvas and wonder if it is not better than once I feel I have finished it in paint. The sketch or unfinished version always feel more free and fluid.”
- Kate Walker
Kate Walker, unfinished works. @katepaintwalker on instagram
Left to right:
Eugene Delacroix, Unknown name and date. Pen and ink on paper
Eugene Delacroix, "Charioteers", pen and ink on paper. Date unknown.
Eugene Delacroix, "Lion Sketch", oil on canvas. 1854
Eugene Delacroix, "Portrait of George Sand and Frederic Chopin (Unfinished)", oil on canvas. 1838
“In painting a few beautiful lines… A sketch with great feeling can equal in expression the most finished work. There are two things that experience must teach us: The first that one must correct a great deal. But the second is that one must not correct work too much. Study first, make mistakes if necessary but work freely - improvise. Allow yourself freedom, discover in the process of doing. The original idea is the egg, the embryo, it has everything in it. What you must do is set that everything free.”
I heard this in a Delacroix documentary I was watching the other day. I know that Delacroix wrote journals, and some say that the content of his writings is more profound than the work itself. Perhaps it’s because he spoke of the great mysteries of painting, what painting can do for the soul. Not just painting, but life itself. Anyway, I’m not sure if this was taken from his journals, or it was just something in the documentary but either way.
Oliver Pearce, "Fishing in Summer" @oagp_ on instagram.
What makes a painting finished anyway?
This picture above, is the same painting but at different stages - the right is the finished version...
When you think to consider that everything a painter paints... one doesn't do it for no reason - painting takes time. Having said that, form in painting, whether it's an object, a person, animal or even just mere shape, line or colour, they hold a weight... In that, the artist is trying to portray a particular feeling or sensation, (whatever it may be), through the act of paint.
In essence, the fact this painting overtime turned from autumn to summer - that the leaves fell from the trees; a new cycle began... I think it says a lot, and I don't just mean about the artist... But painting in general, standing as a conductor for emotion...
Leonardo da Vinci famously said and I quote: "Art is never finished, only abandoned". I believe the same can be said about life... Now bare with me here... So in nature, there isn't a so call 'ending' or 'completion', it is simply the fact that one thing leads to the next. That transformation is at the essence of life and death. Therefore, one cannot stop life of course.. but only stop watching it go by. Or in other words, turn our attention onto something else.
"I remember working on this a few months back and my mum came into my room, (my studio at the time), she said that she loved this painting and that I shouldn’t do anything to it. Ever since I’ve been wanting to carry on working on it, but every other week my mum comes looking for the painting, saying, ‘where is it, my painting’ - worried that I have painted over it. So I pull it out from the stack of paintings in the corner and she’s relieved."
- Matthew Darby
Matthew Darby, "Chatter at the Bar" @matthewdarby_ on instagram
TO BE CONTINUED...