An artist never really finishes his work; he merely abandons it. ~Paul Valéry (French French poet, writer, philosopher. 1871-1945 )
In my gut I know when a sculpture is “done” and know that doing one more thing to it will either take it to the land of salvage (somewhat like sending it to a cosmetic surgeon: me & extra hours of re-do work) or transform it into another manifestation, which will require additions of space or volume or color ( also extra hours of work, but not re-do work). Sometimes the new manifestation is an all right place to go; sometimes not, especially if there’s begrudgment. I confess the new manifestations don’t happen often.
Mostly, citing the above quote from Paul Valéry: there’s an exhale and with the exhale, I push the work away: done: it possesses a life of its own.
For me, since I also worked as a writer, the feeling and satisfaction of having finished is similar. As a novelist, I sensed that my characters had accomplished their mission in my story. I had reached up into the cloud, where characters wait to be realized, pulled them down and provided the plot in which they romped.
In sculpture, there is not a cloud of characters waiting to be realized. Rather there is space waiting to be penetrated. I experience a sense of reaching into the time-space warp and then birthing an object of art that inhabits my present space. It is saturated with time and weight and visual acknowledgement. No words. It is a pre-verbal, non-verbal act.
In a sense I am a facilitator. I have a job. I do not have to work overtime if I stay centered, focused, and aware of the moment to let go of the sculpture; it is not an intellectual decision.
But…Like a novel, after the story is finished there’s still the cover. In sculpture, there’s the question of how to display it, the footing or the wall hooks.