When Is A Sketch Complete?

12:19 PM

Carriage House Window, Selby Gardens, Florida
I watched some art videos over the weekend and the following statement was made:

A sketch does not have to be complete to be finished. 

For whatever reason, this statement has enchanted and intrigued me. It launched my curiosity into flight...so I decided to experiment.

In the sketches above, I did the one on the right first. It's a more finished sketch with some of the info (bricks) suggested. I then sketched the same view again on the left but more quickly. No pencil lines, just a brush and paint. I deliberate chose to leave the top and bottom of the sketch unfinished. I completely omitted any brick work or shadows in the window panes.

First Question: Which sketch appeals to you the most and can you tell me why?

When I look at the image on the left, I am more...engaged...with the view than I am with the one on the right. The left sketch has areas I can "finish" in my mind's eye because it isn't finished on the page. I don't find the loss of the bricks or the shadow shapes to be detrimental to what I was attempting to say with my sketch.

Second Question: How does one determine when a sketch is "complete" vs. "finished"?

I posted this over on Facebook to capture other artists' thoughts and ideas and someone suggested that leave a sketch unfinished had more to do with conveying a feeling than whether it's finished and went on to suggested that it may have more to do with when the artist felt the sketch was finished.

Third Question: Do you ever deliberately leave a sketch unfinished but feel it's complete?

This isn't a new concept by any means, but it is one I intend to explore and utilize more in my own work. In doing the two sketches above, I've already learned that it will take a deliberate and conscious effort on my part as my default is to "finish" the item/view/subject.

Fourth Question: Which do you like best, finished or unfinished sketches? Any particular reason why?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this type of sketching!

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1 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Laure I think both sketches are great. I think the one with less detail captures more a feeling and allows the viewer to complete it in their own mind's eye. I have always had difficulty thinking something is done and so many paintings seem unfinished to me. Thanks for sharing.


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