Finding A Finishing Line
I have a short attention span in regards to painting, that is why I end up painting multiple works at once. There are steps in the process of creating that are all very integral but often intangible. I call the first stage of the inspiration the fermenation period of the idea. I have no interest in painting something that is just attractive, there needs to be a feeling, an emotional response that comes to the viewer, with this in mind I believe the need for the fermenation of the original concepts captures the subtle edges that turn a pretty landscape into an emotional scene.
Over the recent years, I have gotten very scattered in my painting process which has come to equal an amazing amount of works without any sign of finishing. I have worked on paintings that originated up to twenty years ago and continue to map out creations that will eventually become sketches and finally finished works. These ideas tend to stay in the fermentation point and recently I have all images stopping abruptly at that stage, this is a dilemma for an artist wanting some product to display.
The problem with my somewhat fickle approach to painting is the original idea is often so fleeting that in the middle of creation the idea and original inspiration become barely tangible. In my recent teaching experiences an observation has occurred to me-you either work forward toward the finished product or you are pushing paint around. The pushing paint around is a feeling where you tend to just move paint around and this is often when I get the feeling I am painting someone elses' painting and I have become lost in the details, the original inspiration is gone. I have watched my recent student turn from someone that asks what next to someone that knows where the paint and stroke needs to go, almost instinctively and that is in my opinion when you are creating and not just pushing paint.
My studio is filled with so many paintings that hang on the wall in varying stages of completion, some are so far beyond the original idea I have often thought of just trashing them and often some are just never finished. I recently pulled down all the orphans of my creative inspiration and decided which needed to be finished, which needed to be trashed and the difference in the stages of their completion, in this process I was able to get closer to actually finishing paintings that before had hung on the wall waiting for the next step.
It is a very strange feeling when you pick up from a pile of paintings, each individual painting and suddenly you know what needs to be done. There are invisible cues that become real as if suddenly I know where every stroke should go and what color goes where. There is a feeling of absence at this point just like writing poetry, suddenly you are lost in the image but your subconscious mind is completely familiar with the work and understands every nuance of the scene and what needs to be done to finish the painting. I have signed eight paintings in the last week and have started the six week process of eventually finishing them with lacquer, it is an exciting point in the creative process.
I believe one reason that it's hard to keep momentum on the multiple paintings is when I get lost in a painting's details I lose the subconscious understanding of the details and what needs to go where. Changing paintings and atmospheres disrupts that feeling of being overwhelmed by the details but unfortunately my short attention span takes over again and another painting begins its long process of becoming a finished product.