Landscape Painting: Big Sky

How do you know when a painting is finished?

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‘Big Sky’ — landscape painted by Valerie Rawlings

I began this landscape painting at a Ken Elliot art workshop in Denver last August, and just finished it in Austin last week. At 30″x30″, it is a much larger format than I usually do. So I only got it half painted at the art workshop, and Ken shipped it to me about 3 weeks later. It’s been wandering around my studio ever since.

Completing the ‘Big Sky’ Landscape Painting

This elusive landscape painting seems to have veered off from the original inspiration photo. So I looked around on the Internet for landscapes and cloud images that resembled where this piece was going. I made some major revisions and wondered what to do next. I put the landscape painting aside, leaning against a wall where it sat for weeks. Occasionally, I put it on an easel or moved it to another wall to see if it would speak to me about what it needed. From time to time I dabbed a bit of paint here and there. My “all things art” mentor (Karen) was here in January, so I asked her about it. She said, she liked it just as it was.

Yesterday I decided the landscape painting needed to audition on a wall, away from the studio to see if it could stand on it’s own. I carried it to the bedroom and hung it up. And I am happy to say it has proclaimed itself done! Art is kinda funny that way.

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‘Big Sky’ — Painted Landscapes by Valerie Rawlings

There is a lot of conversation in the art world about knowing when your painting is finished. Some say you will miss your next great creation if you don’t have the courage to go on; while others say it’s a terrible risk to “overwork” the canvas. Others say it takes two to make a masterpiece — one to paint it and one to tell him when to stop. There is a quote attributed alternately to Leonardo da Vinci or Picasso: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

So I think I am ready to “abandon” this one —

Onward to more Austin landscape paintings!

About Valerie Rawlings

Austin, Texas oil painter focusing on portraits, landscapes and still life paintings
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2 Responses to Landscape Painting: Big Sky

  1. Judy Scherer says:

    Beautiful sky! 30X30 wow what an undertaking. Impressive Val!

    • Thanks Judy! The bigger format feels a lot freer-big brushes, big paint, big movements, big fun! I am hoping for a lot of landscape opportunities from the new house deck-if we ever get there!