Finish What You Start

I have a rule in my studio: I must finish what I start.

Keiko Yasuoka

I loved reading this matter-of-fact statement from watercolorist Keiko Yasuoka. Her work was featured in the February 2013 issue of Watercolor Artist — one of the back issues I picked up recently. Her art was inspiring, but in some respects I think her words were even more so.

Finish what we start.

How many times have I been tempted to quit in the middle of a drawing? Probably almost as many times as I’ve started a drawing. I nearly quit while working on The Cat. It looked awful at first, so why bother to finish it?

Figure DrawingI had that same ready-to-give-up feeling today while working on a project for a free Craftsy class on figure drawing. All I had was a mess of mixed-up lines that bore no resemblance to anything human. Why continue?

Of course, Keiko Yasuoka’s words came to mind. “Repeat after me,” I imagined her saying. “I must finish what I start.”

The result proved far better than I’d expected. No, it’s not the best example of figure drawing, but for me, it’s not half bad. It is, in fact, good enough to make me want to try doing more figure drawing.

I’ve already done a bit of browsing and found “How to Draw the Human Figure” at a website called “Learn to Draw“.  It’s a free site with a lot of good information.

Every time I’ve wanted to quit working on a drawing, I’ve ended up learning a valuable lesson or discovering something new that excites me. I would have missed out on a lot of things had I given in to temptation and set a sketch aside because I didn’t think it was worth finishing.

It could be argued that some of my drawings probably shouldn’t have been finished. There was that terrible sketch of a covered bridge I made recently. Awful. I threw it away, but at least I finished it. And there’s that hideous blue portrait. I truly cringe every time I see it. But, at least I finished it.

Few things in the world of art are sadder sights than unfinished works. Once we quit, it’s over, and a bad sketch can never get any better. If we keep at it though, we might be able to salvage something. We might be able to find our way through the jumble of lines on the page just as I did with my figure drawing. He looks human now, and hey, take a look at his right arm. It turned out all right. I even got some indication of muscle around that rib cage.

It would have been a shame to have left him sitting there, unfinished, all lines and smudges going every which way. Now, I’m eager to learn more, ready to grab those anatomy books and seriously study the subtle nuances of the human body.

I’m glad I finished this fellow, and I’m going to make a poster to hang on my wall, one that proclaims in big, bold letters:



  1. Started reading your earlier posts. How uncanny are some of our common experiences! I, too, did the same Craftsy drawing lesson and have drawn and painted a covered bridge. Most recently I cleaned out my art studio and sorted and reorganized brushes, paints, canvases-used and unused; dusted and cleaned the floors. For past weeks I went from painting with oil and acrylic to drawing with graphite, color and Arteza water color pencils and charcoal and conte crayons, pen and ink, etc. in the sunny corner in my living room. It’s where I have a drawing desk and another major work space that must be cleaned! —Liz

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the many things I’ve enjoyed about having this blog is how my experiences can “connect” with those of other artists. We each have a unique pathway to travel, yet those pathways so often lead to shared places. It is so nice to meet others through this blog and learn about their journeys, too.


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