Unfinished paintings – The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog


In the days of social media it’s far too easy to appear like you’re perfect – just use the right filters, always smile like you’re happy and find the perfect spot to do a selfie, right?

Since I know all too well that I’m anything but perfect, I thought I’d do this little series where I share with you my unfinished paintings or drawings – and thus make it clear that I am not perfect.

For every painting or drawing of mine there’s at least another one that collects dust in the cupboard or rots away in a drawer (okay, the last one’s a bit harsh, so far none of my drawings started to rot).

I start all enthusiasm and energy – new canvas, new paints, new project!

And somewhere along the way

… my enthusiasm begins to vanish, or

… I get distracted, or – and this is hard to admit

… I simply get bored by the project.

Or, and that’s even harder to admit

… I realize that my skills are far behind my ambitions.



My unfinished painting and me (Aug. 2020)


The painting you see in the picture above and below is very obviously unfinished, at least if you happen to know how the original painting looks by which it was inspired (scroll down to the last pic – yep, that’s how it was supposed to look.)


One of many unfinished paintings: “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” (acrylic on canvas)


I wanted to make my own version of Caspar David Friedrich‘s “The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” from 1818.

Caspar David Friedrich, one of my favorite painters, was a 19th century German Romantic painter who managed to paint landscapes that fill you with longing and Fernweh just by looking at them.


Detail of unfinished painting “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog”


I don’t think that I will ever get to continue working on this painting, although part of me would love to. But after years (!) of procrastination, I think it might be easier to start something new.


And here’s the original painting – beautiful, isn’t it?


Caspar David Friedrich, “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” (1818; courtesy Wikipedia)



Do you also have unfinished projects that wait for you to come back to them? Do you think you will? And how do you handle it?

Let me know all about it in your comments!



Published by Sarah

Artist & Illustrator

70 thoughts on “Unfinished paintings – The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

  1. Nice painting, I really like the texture. My paintings usually take a few months, and I keep coming back to them every 4 days to a week. I’m not really the type of artist that comes back to something a year later. Ocassionally I will do revamps and revisits for my portfolio.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Painting can be a slow process especially when you paint in oil for example. It took me a while to accept that and now I know that most paintings just want to teach me patience. πŸ˜„


    2. Nice very good I start projects lately about houses. They are with landscapes too. They are fun but I haven’t finished them all yet. I’m going to make them for all seasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Unfinished projects? I have hundreds! I want to illustrate some of my poems but I continue to write and keep putting off the artwork! Now I’m running out of time and maybe the only way to move forward is to throw caution to the wind and see what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s oddly relieving to know that I’m not alone with these unfinished projects! πŸ˜‚
      Wow! Illustrating your own poems sounds wonderful! And you’re right – just do it!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your painting as is. It creates longing and interest because you start thinking, “Wait, it’s unfinished? What’s is supposed to look like?” Then, you start looking at it closer to figure it out. Just name it “My Unfinished Painting” πŸ™‚ Also, it’s realistic and relatable to everyone’s typical Monday morning with the clothes in the dryer and piles of stuff you’ve yet to get to on your list.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your honesty and openness in this post Sarah. I think Sharon makes a really good point β€” sometimes we don’t finish a particular project because it has nothing else to reach us and actually moving on to use the knowledge somewhere else is a much better use of time, energy and resources.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Su, it was quite relieving to write this and admit to my faults. 😁 And now that I’ve thought even more about I think Sharon is definitely right: each piece of art gives you an opportunity to learn something and as soon as it feels you’ve got it’s maybe time to move on. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that’s both useful and healthy. We all seem to struggle so much with our inner critics (and those around us who like to take on that role too), yet I think deep down we know that we make art because we need to; because the processes give us joy.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Hello Sarah,
    You already know how much I love you and your artwork. This post shows so much more than your skills as an artist. Your honest way to present yourself and your world just as it is shows the fantastic woman that you are. You are way to hard on yourself my friend. Even unfinished, your painting looks like a chef d’oeuvre to me!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww, Dominique – you really make me blush! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, for your encouragement, for your friendship – it means the world to me! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. One of the things I appreciate very much about your posts is your honesty & transparency. Sharing your art in process, whether or not there is a finished outcome is a vitalising & fascinating peep into your world, and really, into the world of art making.

    I think creating work inspired by our favourite paintings, writings, etc is actually very challenging as the yardstick is so high – so, kudos to you, Sarah!

    And yes, I hear you on the enthusiastic beginnings and then the distractions. But as I like to put it these days, I have lots of projects brewing. Some just take longer than others.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Ju-Lyn!
      I like the sound of brewing projects! Makes it appear like something out of Shakespeare what with the witches and their cauldron. πŸ˜€
      I admit that I even have dozens of projects brewing in my head that haven’t even made a first step onto a canvas or paper – lol! πŸ˜‚


  7. The original is certainly a beautiful painting, but then so is yours!! Even if it unfinished, it is still your creation. You should go back to it, you might find your inspiration return! You are such a talented artist! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh Sarah, you are a bit harsh on yourself. I like the moodiness of your painting. I can understand the want to copy and get it just right but that is quite a difficult task to set yourself. Getting inspiration from others work is a great form of praise. I often see others photographers work and want to try that as well. Be yourself and copy and develop what you feel but never be dissatisfied with what you do and achieve. I really like what you do even if some are rotting in a basement somewhere πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww – thank you very much for your wonderful comment, Brian!
      Yes, you’re absolutely right, I should try to be more myself and not to be so much of a critic. 😁 It’s a hard lesson to learn though!
      But the most important thing is to have fun being creative, and as long as I remember this, all shall be well. πŸ˜€πŸ’•

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I cant completely relate! I have three manuscripts in my desk that are awaiting final editing… But that’s okay. Sometimes we don’t finish everything we start. We may get around to it later, or we may just move on to something more interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a true relief to know that I’m not alone with my unfinished projects, Ann! 😁 And your thoughts about them is admirable – I really need to learn that even if unfinished in one way, the project might be finished in another in that that it taught me what I wanted to learn at that time. πŸ˜€


  10. I left a witch in a box unfinished for years because I could not work as fast as others in the class and didn’t know what to do with it. One day, I took it out and said the heck with it, I’m going to have some fun. So I just painted it the way I liked it and set it out for Halloween. She’s been the star every year since. I have stacks of UFO’s as most quilters do. I started a quilt last year that has given me fits so I just keep going on to simpler projects and will come back to that one in the fall. It’s flannel and will be lovely in the cool weather to work on. In the meantime, I’m going to work on something easy until then. Starting with a reply to your card that arrived today. πŸ™‚ You can see it in Oct 2018 post. Art is about having fun and letting it do the guiding. Took a while to learn. What is your favorite color by the way?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad the card arrived okay!! πŸ˜€
      Love the sound of UFO’s – must be because I loved watching The X-Files, lol! πŸ˜„ I think it’s great that you just decided to have some fun with your witch – best way to tackle any creative project! I’ve been having fun painting these last days without thinking about whether I’ll finish it or not – the journey is the important thing, not so much getting there (although I wouldn’t mind finishing it for a change πŸ˜‰).
      My favourite colour? I really love them all but my first colour love was green since I love nature so I’ll stick with that. πŸ˜€ πŸ’š


      1. UFO’s are unfinished objects. πŸ˜‰ I’m with you, I love them all and it depends on what I’m doing with the color as to which I would want there. My daughter loves yellow because it makes her happy. I love purple because it’s a very spiritual color. My living room is in basic dirt colors for the many pets that track things in as well as their people. πŸ˜‰ Every color has a purpose. I love greens too. I think the only color I’m not fond of is pink. Coral or peach is always better. I studied color for a long time and had a business with it. I also watched every episode of the X Files. Loved that show. As far as finishing, everything has it’s time. My quilt will wait until summer projects are done in probably the next few weeks. Keep well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I guessed as much but it’s good to be certain about the UFO’S. πŸ˜‰
        I totally get that your daughter chose yellow to be her favorite color – it really is a very happy one and I always associate it with sunflowers which just make me smile.
        Purple is a ver powerful color – I love it! It’s spiritual, sensual and also very regal. Did you know that the Roman Emperors were the only ones allowed to were purple togas? The pigment was harvested from sea slugs – not very appetizing, right? πŸ˜‰ And it took ages to concoct it too. Senators and the like only were allowed to have a purple brim around their togas.
        When I found out that orange is supposed to be an aggressive color I was quite shocked – just think of the poor Buddhist monks running around in their Indian Yellow robes! LOL! It’s fascinating to learn things like these and the history of colors is an amazing one. I could talk hours about it. πŸ˜‰
        Take care!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m with you on the study of color. I used to be a color consultant to pick your wardrobe colors. I studied a year for that. Fascinating. Not prepackaged because personality, bone structure and walking gait play a big roll in it. It was my favorite line of work. I’m a lot behind right now because I have company for 2 weeks and was getting ready for it for a week.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That sounds like a fascinating job, Marlene! I often catch myself wondering how people could improve their looks by choosing the right colors for their wardrobe, and as you said, there’s so much to it: bone structure, gait… I can totally get that it was your favorite line of work! πŸ˜€
        Have a lovely weekend! Hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, the original painting is fabulous, but your painting shows promise, Sarah. I like the idea of taking someone else’s idea and making something new of it. πŸ™‚

    Can you draw a kraken in a stormy sea both looming over an 18th century sailing boat for me? I would like to mosaic this but I am struggling with the drawing. πŸ™‚ Hee hee hee. Sorry, I am now finding this idea (of mine) hysterically funny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it just? πŸ˜€ And thank you for seeing the promise showing through my painting! I can live with that very comfortably. πŸ˜„

      Wow! Sounds like an awesome project! I’ve painted a multicoloured octopus that I haven’t shared yet because still no background- maybe it was waiting for your vision of a 18th century vessel in a stormy sea!! πŸ˜€ Although I’m not sure I could paint it like I’d want it too look like (mainly like a 18th century seascape πŸ˜‰). But I could try drawing it in illustration style… πŸ™„

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tell me about it! I’ve been trying to paint three small boats in the last days and the perspective is all wrong! πŸ˜‚ But will keep trying! I once painted a sailship very early on in my blog, will see if I can find the link and send it to you, maybe that would work. πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Fernweh is the word of the year, eh? So much better than pandemic, self-isolate, social distancing, blah, blah, blah. πŸ˜› I guess unfinished writing is a little different than unfinished paintings or drawings. I’m perfectly okay with unfinished books, movies, and plenty of essays and well-intended blog posts. Just roll with it Sarah, let go of the guilt and tell yourself when you want to, it’s always there… ❀


  13. I inherited several of my grandmother’s paintings that are purportedly unfinished. However, I like them just the way they are. (In my mind, they are as finished as they need to be.) Your unfinished painting reminds me of them. I have plenty of unfinished writing projects set aside years ago because I didn’t have the writing chops to finish them. I’ve revisited many of them in the past couple of years. I actually like knowing I have abandoned projects as a hedge against writer’s block.


  14. How many unfinished paintings are lying around my house? More than I can count on my fingers and toes. However, in most cases, I learned what I wanted with the amount I accomplished, so am not disappointed nor interested in completing any of them. Maybe that’s also your underlying motivation and why you don’t want to continue. Though I think your beginning is admirable. I’m still waiting to see your chess set. giggle….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha! I’m also waiting for that, Shari! 😁
      And I think you could be right of my underlying motivation behind my unfinished projects! Sounds also much better than calling oneself lazy! πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m certain you could finish it if you wanted to, Sarah. But that’s not often how creativity works. In fact, I think that “perfection” and other “shoulds” can dampen the creative impulse. Creativity flourishes when we’re free to explore, to play, to aspire, to follow the muse, and to abandon without a care. A great share. And the original painting is amazing. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

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