Did you manage to do the Amaryllis Challenge from last month?  I have heard from people who have done some amazing things.  If you did, you found you enjoyed seeing the minute changes, or sometimes spectacular changes, that occur. Hopefully you changed mediums or techniques. And – like daily walking or yoga – you got in the habit of doing at least a little art each day.

Often, after the rush of the holidays, you want to retreat to your art as a way of refueling and retooling. But you don’t know where to start.

Is this finished?

In the spirit of ending  one year and the beginning another, let’s take inventory.

Get out your paintings that you have tucked away and start sorting:

probably finished although the flowers they reference were a darker red

  • Paintings that are finished.  If you are not sure, put them up someplace where you can get a little distance and see if you feel they are done.    If so, sign them, date them and give them a title and/or an inventory number.  You might make a subcategory of ones you are going to get framed.


  • Started on location last September and I need to get back to it.

    Ones that need to be finished/are almost finished.  In this category, it is important that you are still interested in the painting and the idea behind it.  If you feel it has given you all you are going to get from it put it instead in one of the following categories.

    Some of the paintings under way that I am thinking about — finished? try again a little differently? just needs more work? all of the above….

  • Good ideas that need a new start: If you like the idea but are not happy with the direction the painting is going, perhaps it is time to rethink it. Treat this painting as a draft. Try it again.
  • This is a great category for “what am I going to paint today.”  Choose one from this pile and figure out what you need to do to make the idea work.  Draw that up. Possibly write down you goals this time around before you start.  I usually keep a couple of these pinned up, and often try an idea 2 or 3 times before I reach the solution.
  • “So What” paintings.  You just don’t care about the painting or the idea.  A dead end.
  • I started this a long time ago and have lost interest. So, what? The back is still clean.

    Clean Backs.  Some of the “so what” paintings and the absolute dead end paintings can be saved with your clean paper for new work – on the back.  Those of you who have taken my classes have seen me do mini-demonstrations on many of these.

  • Boxes.  It is surprising the “failed” paintings that turn into nice boxes. How to do it? See the December, 2013 post.
    • If not boxes, you can cut sections for little card fronts
    • strips for bookmarkers
    • gift tags

This would make a great box. Or will I see how to finish it?

  • Practice pages  You go off from your idea and  draw it up again, or you are no longer interested. These are a great resource to experiment. For example, see how certain of your pigments respond to being glazed with lots of water, not much water, etc.

    This painting started as a demo (unfinished). I drew it up again and it became “Silent Slumber” – see gallery – and have since used it to demonstrate glazing with sedimentary pigments.

    Put up a few of the paintings you want to start working on — either to finish or to try again another way. Arrange a filing system for the others to try later.

  • And some that are in no pile, the ones that you never want to see again? Well, they burn beautifully. It is time for a new start. Time to get started!

Enjoy painting in the new year,


©2017 Caroline Buchanan