There are many emotions that come from painting. The process can be confusing and frustrating one minute, and full of elation and satisfaction the next. I feel like a lot of it is just for me as I work through each piece, but I’m sure the same emotions can be felt through the finished work when it’s out there for the world to see.
I wonder what it is that makes one person connect to something while someone else never looks twice. The nice thing is that I don’t have to please everyone. I do hope someone can connect to my work, but the reality is that not everyone will and I kind of like it that way.
So back to the process. My paintings usually have many layers. Sometimes the first and second layers are completely unrecognizable in the finished piece. Sometimes I think about putting words or phrases that will never be seen into an early layer. Sometimes there are only two layers. Sometimes there are 9 or 10. Or 20. I don’t plan ahead. I think the number of layers sometimes depends on where I hit my stride.
My painting experience is a lot like running. At the start of a run, I enjoy the fresh air and the feeling of the pavement beneath my feet. Then there comes a point where I hate everything about the stupid pavement and that fresh air I loved so much feels like knives in my chest. If I can just push through, I’ll reach a point where I feel like I could run forever. My gaze lifts toward the horizon again and everything is right in the world.
That’s the moment I wait for in each painting.
I wait for the fog to clear somewhere between layer 2 and 19. It’s during that time that I hate my brushes, the paint is drying too fast (or not fast enough), and I feel like starting something new. Sometimes I do. It helps for awhile until I get stuck on the new painting and then I have 2 paintings that I almost want to destroy.
This is where music is crucial. Sometimes I am so busy that I forget all about music. This is usually to my detriment as I have found that music can help to clear the fog faster. I crave the clarity, but you can’t rush it. I wish I could have it within the first or second brush stroke, but I don’t think it’s meant to happen so easily.
The next time you look at a piece of artwork (painting or otherwise), think about the process. Try to see the hidden layers. Look to find the clarity that came through perseverance. You probably won’t see the same thing that the artist does, but you might find a perspective all your own and maybe it will make you feel like you can run forever.