Sometimes when I begin a painting it seems to breathe immediately on its own with barely any assistance from me. But some weeks ago I began a painting that took me on a long journey. I didn't photograph the beginnings, because all my paintings start with a leap of faith, a choice of color and a belief that at some point I will find a direction to take it. But as this one evolved and came closer to satisfying me, I documented the changes I made.
Between each of these photographs is a "studying time" which usually lasts from a day to a week. This is when I stand back and pay close attention to the overall effect, getting clues for what needs to happen next. It might be a color change, or the addition or subtraction of a line or form to make the composition more pleasing. My work grows one step at a time from unfinished to that aha! moment when I feel it is successful.
Often I am immediately aware of a section that disturbs me and I know what I want to do to help it. This photo shows the basic composition that I created over the first few days.
The next photo is much more satisfying but I know it isn't complete.
This one, which was taken much later, made me feel good. In fact, I was happy enough with it to call it finished and I put it on my web site. I still needed to put a final coat of cold wax medium on for varnish though, and when I tried, I just couldn't. I knew, blast it, that I still needed to tweak it before I could complete this last step.
My eyes kept landing on the little house. I realized it just felt too whimsical. I removed the painting from my web site and over the next few days worked in small increments to amend the area, arriving at this photograph.
More study, another few days, I conceded that despite my liking it better I had more work to do. The whole lower portion seemed wishy washy now...
Finally, the painting felt right. I left it alone overnight. Joy in the morning! I felt an instant friendship with it. Yes, it was finished!
|Voyager, 12 x 16" Oil and mixed media on cradled board|
Instead of a journey, this painting was a real trek for me. It taught me, once again, a hundred times again, to keep working until every bit of it feels right.