Secrets of a finished painting

It’s easy to talk about working on a painting and the process, but how many artists talk about what they do immediately after they finish a piece?

What happens then? Do artists start on another piece? Take the day off? Celebrate with a chocolate sundae? Well, I can’t speak for other artists, but I can tell you what I do.

Let’s start with my palette. Sue Smith recently had a picture of her palette on her blog. Artists love to show off their palettes (why do you think is this?). Here’s mine:

Dirty palette

That’s what my palette looks like by the time I’m done with a painting. A clean palette is one that isn’t used. So, what happens to my palette when I’m done? This:

Palette all ready to be used again!

The bottom of my palette is glass and I mix paints right on the glass. When I’m done, I take a razor and a little bit of water and scrape the glass clean. Wah-la! Palette’s ready for another painting. Not clean, not perfect, and oh, heaven forbid — some of my paints have been contaminated by other colors. Yes I know artists who’d go crazy over the the thought. I use to be one of them. Then I had a “get real” moment while I was taking the class from Jerry Yarnell and realized that the best colors are the ones that aren’t perfect. Go on, let them mingle on the palette. Oh, my brush cleaning water rarely gets changed too. Only when it starts to get really thick and my brushes aren’t getting rinsed off. After all, once the brush is dipped in it to clean, then it becomes dirty water anyway. Why worry at that point about trying to keep it clean?

Speaking of brushes, I only clean my brushes in between paintings. I use to do it every time I worked on painting, but I soon decided it was much easier to keep them in a plastic bag between working. I have a spray bottle I use to keep my paints moist, so I spray my palette and seal it up, then I spray a little water in the plastic bag to keep my brushes from drying out. Again, a clean brush is the sign of one that isn’t being used. Even “cleaned” my brushes still look worn. Have a look for yourself:

Clean brushes? Well, mostly.

The true beauty is in the finished painting. Who really cares what goes on behind the scenes?

Windswept Angel
20x16 Acrylic on Canvas
© 2009 Dawn Blair
Click image to purchase

With my palette scraped off and my brushes cleaned out, who wants to dirty those right away. Clean up is hard work. Time to take a moment think about my next painting. Did someone mention a sundae? Let’s go!

2 thoughts on “Secrets of a finished painting

  1. Wah-la! hmmm….. I run into this a lot…… the corrrect word is Voila! It’s French. wah-la is how it’s pronounced……….

    1. Ah, yes, Pierre. You’re very correct! I’ve found that the more in my right brain I am (where I’m seeing pictures instead of words), the worse my spelling gets. Thank goodness for spell check — it catches me most of the time. I’m sure that now it’s been pointed out to me, I’ll remember more in the future. After all, one can only fix what’s incorrect when they know what they are doing wrong. Thanks for reading and for the correction.

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