Friday, September 7, 2012

FINISHED VS. UNFINISHED...

 A sweet blog friend recently left comment on one of my series posts that really gave me pause to think about finished art vs. unfinished art.  She said that the post had really made her think about stops and starts on art pieces she was working on, asking herself if she had to finish everything or is it OK to put a piece away when she is no longer having fun with it.  I truly think that not everything we set our hands to needs to be a finished piece of art.  A huge part of the artistic process is experimentation.  You need to give yourself permission to play without the pressure of creating a finished piece.  I hope I did not give the wrong impression that everything needs to be brought to completion.  I was just sharing my point of view on reaching a particular set of goals. 


I also think art making should be a balance of fun and work based on your personal goals.  Are you making something for discovery, trying a technique, or for the pure pleasure of creating?  Then these might not be things that get to the finished stage.  However, if your goal is for profit, publication, or public presentation (like a galley show) then yes, there is going to need a completion process.
 I totally advocate what I call "piddling projects", like a quilt top, a stitchery piece, an afghan, scrapbooking, an art or inspiration journal,  etc. something that you can pick up and put down at mood or will.  These types of projects are also something you can work on in between ideas or use as relaxation time.  Most artist need a lot of variety and I for one suffer from too many ideas and too little time to execute them, that is probably why I have so many unfinished things going at once.  By all means make the artistic process fun and filled with enough interest to keep your creative juices flowing.
 I have been known to put projects aside that were beginning to frustrate me or that I was losing interest in. Sometimes I go back to them and sometimes I don't.  The art making process is a completely individual and personal pursuit.  Most of what I term as my "unfinished or experimental art" that will never develop into full finished projects are based on trial and error, developing or mastering a technique, working out a new idea, or learning a new skill.  Just this week I have indulged in three such exercises. 

I had some leftover paint on my palette that I did not want to go to waste so I pulled out my art journal and smooshed the excess around on a few pages.  These might be used as backgrounds for future journal pages or torn out and used in a collage, or they may just be what they are...paint smooshed pages.
 
I have an idea for a new book art project but I wanted to experiment with some different binding techniques to see which one would be a good fit so I grabbed some scrap papers and bound away.  I ended up with three little books that will never be used for anything other than to help me decide on the binding technique I want to use.

Lastly I had an idea for a little garment project that I have been wanting to try.  This is purely for experimentation purposes.  Most of these types of  things never make it onto my blog and most of them I don't count worthy of mention, this is just a part of how I learn and grow my skills.(And how I end up with a drawer full of unfinished stuff ;c)
For me, what it all boils down to is that I see a purpose in having both finished and unfinished projects as part of my own personal process.  What are your thoughts?  Is it OK to put a piece away when it no longer becomes fun or do have to finish everything you start?

I hope you all enjoy a beauty filled weekend!

11 comments:

Vee said...

Gosh! I hope so! I have a sewing room filled with unfinished sewing projects. One of my little joys, though, is "finishing" what my mother began. So perhaps one day my starts and stops will be completed as well. Your relaxed approach is so refreshing. As I was working on my little lampshade...a nothing little project...I asked John if I ruined it would it be okay to get another and I'd have learned my lesson. He said that all of life is an experiment and he makes mistakes, too. That was refreshing as well.

Lori @ Katies Rose Cottage Designs said...

Oh my goodness I have so many unfinished projects ~ I think if it isn't inspiring any longer it is perfectly okay not to finish ~

Lady Locust said...

As you say, some things are just for personal growth/learning. Some things however, are like a fine wine and being set aside for a while will 'become.' I have projects that I began ions ago, and once re-found - a new light shown upon them & they 'became.' Others I view, and if I can dispose of the item, than I can usually tell you its original purpose & how it is no longer needed - I grew or 'became' due in part to having begun it. It is a continuum - how happy we are when we find an unfinished quilt from 1922, or a painting with only the subject & no background (or vice-versa.) In time, we might actually be a part of someone else's growth - what an honor. Sorry for the lengthy comment - loved the post:)

bobbie said...

The perfectionist in me wants to, of course, finish everything...
However, through my art, I'm learning to ignore that voice (thank the universe!)
I know that fresh eyes on something that has been 'aging' for a while can bring new life to it.
Also, I'm learning the joy of just playing ~ not with any specific goal in mind; but just to learn & explore.

Judy Miller said...

Oh, thank you for encouraging me!! Sometimes I get so caught up in the "I have to finish this NOW" that it becomes un-fun. Other times I have managed to set it aside for awhile and later go back and finish it with joy. Your post removed some of the guilt I have felt. Judy

Thespoena McLaughlin said...

I frequently stop working on a piece when something new catches my fancy. Sometimes that piece is lucky enough to be picked up later and "finished" other times an unfinished work is fodder and supplies for the next process. Also when I'm working on a piece and I feel it is finished it never really is. I'm always finding more to add, it's my personal motto as an artist "if in doubt, add more!" LOL. Thanks for a great post!

Katherine Wolak said...

Im so with you, no need to finish everything! I have the same drawer filled with stuff I started and do plan to tweak/finish someday! :)

Hugs,

Marilou Bain said...

What a wonderful post Sandy, I just am one who loves the journey and have many UFO's, I'm okay with that, some we just outgrow and learn from, others we complete and all of it is "just part of our journey" Hugs sweets and now I'm off to post about my wonderful gift!! xoxo Marilou

Jillayne said...

Well, I have more than 100 things that aren't finished so many people wouldn't take my comments seriously but... they aren't done for a variety of reasons. I think for the most part we are too attached to the outcome and to cause and effect - we started it so we should finish it.
Many things I start and discard for exactly the reasons you state - some were only meant to be a learning piece, to springboard me to somewhere else.
If we lose interest, if the project no longer brings something to us, then I think it's a waste of spirit to finish it. A waste of resources for sure, but also a waste of our energy and time. Maybe beginning it was all we were meant to do, so it could lead us to something more.... I could go on, and on but then I do have 108 projects in motion I need to justify...

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I can't tell you the number of 1/2 finished projects I have. It generally builds up until I say "ENOUGH!" and spend a day or two completing everything. Then I always feel so much better. :)

Tina @ TinyBear Studio said...

I just wish I had the abbility to put a project aside - that doesn´t seem to happen over here. I always feels too obligated to finish everything, otherwise it feels like waste of time. I wish I could - I need to work on that

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