Saturday, March 4th, 2017
The more you paint, the less you paint
I often think of the answer given to me, years ago in art school, when I asked a painting instructor the rookie question, “when do you know when a painting is done?” The teacher–an older, wiser, slightly eccentric guy–didn’t hesitate with his reply. “When you can’t paint anymore.”
Seemed like a flimsy, artsy answer at the time, but over time, I’ve grown to understand.
From the time you make the first mark, to any point in the process after that, the painting can be “done” at anytime. When starting a piece, like the one here, the beginning (for me) is a loose, sloppy exercise in getting the idea down. Everything after this stage is pushing the boundaries of completion. In my own work, the more I paint, the less I feel I “have” to paint, to finish a piece. Getting the desired color, composition, shadow, etc., to achieve the desired outcome is a process of pushing forward while simultaneously being ready and willing to stop.