Or is it?
A very good friend of mine, once told me the hardest thing for an artist to do is stop painting. To resist the temptation to tinker, and accept 'it is what it is'. That's a lesson that was brought home strongly to me yesterday.
The conversation ( in Lj and by email) went a bit like this :
Friend : I want this one.
Me : you can't have it. It's a work in progress.
Friend : let me know when it's done, then.
Me ( to self) shit. I don't know how to finish that one! Not sure how to fix it without losing the bits I like. Never mind.
Friend : well, can I have these other ones instead?
Me : Umm, They're in a gallery. I'm not sure I want to drag them out, as I 've spent ages trying to get in to that gallery (thinks furiously) Actually, let me send you another pic of the work in progress one, and if you really like it you can have it as is. It's part of a set of three that are in progress, and maybe that one's done after all.
Friend : I've done this before! I always make artists stop because I like it as it is! I'll take it, please.
Me : Ok! done deal.
The upside of this ( apart from selling a painting, which is always wonderful) is that it made me go back and work on the other two in that set. Here's where I am now with them, and I'm still not sure if they are finished or not. I think they maybe need lightened up a bit to match the first one, but now they are not a true tryptich any more as the first one's left the nest, so does it matter? hmm.
The thing is, the artist just isn't always the best judge of their own painting. The ones you really love, are the ones that sit mouldering in the cupboard for years. (Though that's partly because they are the ones you don't really want to sell). Working on the arts market in France, I was constantly amazed that people would splash out on the original of the worst painting I had, and leave the 'good' ones hanging.
The great thing about the digital age, however, is that you can record paintings throughout the progress - and if, as it turns out, they were better half way through...well, you can always sell the print of the earlier version. Sort of like selling shadows. But the best thing of all, I guess, would just be to learn when to stop. And that's something that'll probably take me my whole life to learn.