A few days ago my partner, writer Paul Read, who is in a state of permanent despair over my apparent reluctance to call a project done, asked me when my current painting would be finished. Despite having set a target date for the end of September, I had to reply that I didn’t know.
To me, these kind of questions are the equivalent to "How long is a piece of string?" - more reminiscent of a Zen koan than a calendar entry. To my other half, it is definitely a big red circle on his agenda. "I said I’d finish it by today, so given it is today, it must be finished."
Seth Godin calls this 'shipping'.
“Don’t just start. Continue. Ship. Repeat.” Seth Godin
Just some of the many books by Paul Read
Paul’s idea is that we can always do more on any project and it is simply a question of saying enough is enough. For him, this approach results in a prolific output rate of which - apart from during my 365 project - I always feel jealous.
As we progress with our craft, we inevitably learn more skill so it is not surprising that we can look back at a piece we did some months ago with new insight into what it might need. Stephen King recommends leaving your finished manuscript in a drawer for a while and then coming back to it. Distance lends perspective after all.
Today I called The Lost Palace done, albeit provisionally. I reserve the right to change my mind ;)
"Art is never finished, only abandoned." Leonardo da Vinci