Today I painted for four hours on a painting that everyone thought was finished but I hadn’t yet signed. Everyone loved it but me. I really liked the composition, a rounded peony in a square frame. What’s not to love?
But the edges weren’t working for me. Not the edges of the outside of the canvas, the edges where paint meets paint. Where does one color transition to another? Is the edge hard or soft? Does it blend? Does it pick up color from the adjacent color? Does it offer a stark contrast in tone to the color next to it?
Is that color warm or cool that it’s bumping up against? Warm colors advance, cool colors recede. Is one petal in front of the other? Where is the light coming from? Is there a shadow? If the petal of the flower is warm, the shadow would be cool.
In order to work on this, I need to paint in an all over manner since each part relies so heavily on the adjacent section. It’s so hard to know when to stop since the next time will be hard to recreate exactly where I left off. But I can’t paint for too many hours in a row.
My arm gets tired. My hand holding the brush also. I become less precise and begin making small errors that have to be corrected. When the corrections start overcoming the progression I know I’ve reached my tipping point and have to call it a day.
Then I take photos of my progress, clean my brushes, scrap my palette and stare at my work. I spend a lot of time staring and studying the progress of the day. Planning on where to being again tomorrow. Strategizing on where I’ll begin again. I write the notes of my day in the book where I keep, what could be called, a diary of the painting. The date, the length of time, what I worked on and what colors & mediums.
I’m a very procedural artist. I go through a particular set of stages and processes to create my art. What I’m not in control of is what the painting will look like when it is finished. The painting itself determines that. I’m just the vehicle to get there.