Why Completing Your Paintings Really Matters

by | Jun 25, 2024 | Articles | 3 comments

In my role as an intuitive painting facilitator and guide I am deeply dedicated to the principals and practices of the Wild Heart Expressive Arts Intuitive Painting process.

And one of those practices is the invitation to complete any painting that you start before you begin another one. It’s actually more of a strong suggestion than it is an invitation but I try to be as nice as possible about that fact.

And that practice looks like this.

When someone in one of my intuitive painting classes thinks they are done with a painting they have been working on I ask them to have a conversation with me before they officially end it. As part of the ritual of completion I will ask them to take a moment to honor the journey that the painting has taken them on. To recognize what the painting has taught or shown them and to name any risks they might have taken or places where they might have grown through the painting process.

And then I ask them to name three more things that could possibly show up in the painting given that anything at all could still happen. I ask them to look beyond what is already there in terms of theme or color palette. And to open their minds to the endless stream of possibility that exists in their creative being and their imagination. I remind them that just because they name three things doesn’t mean they have to actually paint anything that they said to me. That what we are looking for are any hidden pockets of creative energy that still might want to be expressed.

I will also sometimes ask them if there’s anything they thought of that they didn’t paint. Or if there was something that wanted to come into their painting that they actively or even unconsciously rejected.

Now you will notice that I don’t ask them whether or not they like their painting or invite any other opinions that they might have about their painting. I just ask them to honor where they’ve been and be curious about what else could possibly be expressed.

Now… as you can imagine… I get a LOT of flak about this process. Until people learn the value of this finishing exercise they resist me mightily. Sometimes they will go so far as to sneakily begin a new painting so that they don’t have to talk to me. But soon learn that I DO have eyes in the back of my head and that they can’t get away with that tactic for long.

Now you may be asking yourself, what is the point of this practice? Why do I make such a big deal about this process of finishing?

And there’s a couple of reasons for doing this. First of all, I have quite a few artists who sign up for my classes who invariably tell me that they have a NUMBER of paintings that are sitting in a pile somewhere that they have never been able to complete. And that lack of completion makes them feel frustrated and disheartened about their work.

What ends up happening is that they get to the same place of being stuck, over and over again in their art, and don’t know how to get through that place to the other side. So this finishing process that we teach helps them identify and understand those stuck places and gives them tools for working through it.

And you don’t have to be an artist to find yourself in that same predicament around other kinds of projects.


The second issue is that people can come up with all kinds of “reasons” why they are finished with their painting that are actually sneaky ways of shutting down the conversation too soon with their intuition and creative soul knowing. Their creative spirit might have more energy for the painting journey they are on and want to guide them into some unknown territory that they can’t yet see and don’t yet understand. And that invitation into the unknown can feel scary.

So here are some examples of popular ways that people shut down that conversation and keep themselves from entering into this new and mysterious creative territory.

They might really love the painting and feel very attached to what has already been created. And then get scared that if they listen to that part of them that wants to keep adding to it that they will end up ruining what they love.

They might hate, hate, hate the painting and want to get away from it as quickly as possible because it’s making them uncomfortable.

They also might decide that there isn’t any more physical space in the painting to add anything else. It’s just too full and they don’t want to “overwork” it.


Or they limit their creative expression by not allowing things that their intuition is suggesting because it doesn’t make sense or fit with some existing theme.

When they are making these kinds of determinations about their paintings they are often coming from their heads. They are assessing the painting from their judging minds and focusing on what they want the painting to look like as opposed to allowing the feeling and energy in their body, heart and soul lead the way.


And so the finishing process is designed to help them see some of these limitations and move beyond them, often into exciting and brand new territory.

This practice can be incredibly challenging and confronting for a lot of folks. But it is ultimately a practice of liberation from pre-conceived notions of what is good, bad, beautiful, ugly and possible. And an invitation into freedom from expectation that can lead to a delicious place of wild hearted creative joy and expansion.



  1. Just what I needed right now. Wanting to be finished but also knowing there is more to the story of this piece.

  2. I am so grateful for this wisdom. It’s been almost a year and this is the part that I remember most clearly from working with you. It helps me every time I get stuck. Thank you Chris! X

  3. This is indeed such profound wisdom. I have had this experience in one of your classes of both hating an image, and not wanting to complete it, and this finishing process took me from a ‘stuck’ place to a place of self discovery and acceptance.

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