This painting and I have been together now for 3 years. I think that after all this time we are finally done. It was meant to be a springtime painting in 2013, a primavera of renewal. Things started off pretty well, but I soon realized that I had exhausted the resource of its inspiration. So this painting sat for a while, would reappear, remain resistant, get turned to the wall. Reappear, change ever so slightly, but basically remain the same. Unwavering.
Starting a painting is like meeting someone for the first time. A painting can light a spark in you. The idea of whats beginning can make you want to pour your heart out without a thought as to how it all ends up. These paintings escalate quickly, fueled by the driving force of the feeling of experiencing the engine of it all. The inexplicable desire to indulge in the unraveling layers of curiosity brings on unimaginable transformations.
In theory these kinds of paintings would just hurtle forth and shatter all preconceived notions and expectations, materializing with ease each invigorating time after time.
But it’s far more inevitable to get lost. Where do you go when the blaze burns out? Once you loose your initial inhibition the process feels more like dredging the bottom to salvage the memory of the idea of how things could be. No matter how much effort is put forth, things are just not working out. No amount of deliberating or calculating can ever really change the course of nature; the more you want it to work out, the less likely it will.
Coming to this conclusion paralyses any forward motion.
The easy way out is to jump ship, because efforts met with such resistance can drain the ever loving life out of you. It is easy to get stuck here. Paintings that end up here are hard to budge. Because the pursuit of what can only happen naturally is a baffling undertaking.
For this painting I had let the impression of a face form first. Just the slip of gravity on a string. I was so enthralled by this early accomplishment that everything else after tip toed around these features. I became preoccupied with preserving what was already there instead of letting it evolve.
By accessorizing my proud moment I created a cacophony details, thinking that if I added just the right one they would all somehow make sense in the end. But every detail wanted its own attention and eventually all I could see were the parts. I had lost the sense of their unity as a whole and forgotten the face that had come forth then disappeared under layers years ago.
For some reason this one drew me back in, so instead of annexing this painting to the graveyard of unfinished ideas, I reacquainted myself with it. I was sure that there was still something waiting to be seen. Once I started again I was astonished at how quickly and simply all the parts fell into place, reaching the conclusion I had brooded about for so long in a matter of moments. I think this happened because I had truly given up on the painting; it wasn’t precious to me anymore. I didn’t really care if it worked out or not.
Feeling like there were no consequences to whatever I decided to do next was the only way to regain my footing. Getting inspiration back after loosing it is almost more of a triumph than when the momentum lasts all the way to the end. There is more of a story in the grappling, more soul in the revival.
These kinds of paintings are a real thorn in the side, but once they are done I love them even more because they contain a tremendous amount of myself.