Art Is Never Finished

Art is never finished, only abandoned.
—Leonard da Vinci

You can always go back and touch up a painting. You can always rewrite a lyric or melody. You can always edit a book or blog post. Art is never done. It is never complete. It can always be refined.

Futility by Hugh MacLeod - Art is never finished
“Futility” by Hugh MacLeod

Maybe the tools we use to express our ideas are insufficient. Maybe our hands and brushes and laptops are crude instruments compared to the complexities of our souls and imaginations. So when we step up to our “canvases,” we end approach an inherently flawed medium in comparison to the genius inside of us.

As a result, the project always feels incomplete. It could always use another refinement or edit. It never feels “just right.”

I struggle with this feeling all the time, when it comes to creative projects (including this blog). I’m always wanting to tweak an element here or rewrite a word there. I’m never satisfied.

Or maybe ideas are, by their very nature, transient. Maybe they are always changing. Maybe art is constantly evolving, and therefore, the artist must continuously change how he expresses what the Muse is inspiring.

Maybe creativity is the act of embracing perennially unfinished work.

Maybe an artist is someone who starts, anyway. Realizing that the art will never truly be done, they choose to be courageous, to create.

Maybe that’s why so many people abandon creative work and why so few begin in the first place. Because art feels futile at times, but is, in fact, incredibly brave.

Do you think art is ever finished? Share in the comments.

*Thanks to Stephen Brewster for inspiring this post over a cup of coffee.

Post-script: Since posting this a few minutes ago, I’ve already edited and tweaked five six things.