|Catching the Light|
14 x 11
I walk across the yard to my studio every morning, back across for a 15 minute lunch, and then out again until it's time to make supper (or well past time, as my family will tell you). The studio is filled with paintings in various stages of completion. Many look finished to visitors to the studio, but, until they look finished to me, they're not allowed out in public. That may mean weeks of sitting on a shelf enduring my critical glances before I take the piece up again, make a few marks, and put it back on the shelf again for another spell of waiting and studying. Many paintings will never leave the studio because I don't stand behind them; I just can't like them. Some of these have been praised and appreciated by others, but that only embarrasses me as I can see their flaws, and my eye is the only one that counts. Every year I slash and trash many of this group.
Alex Kanevsky told me that "painting is an inherently wasteful process" and that phrase has been my solace when I discard weeks worth of work and countless dollars worth of paint, linen and worn brushes. I'm just doing what artists do: following in well-worn footsteps along a slow and tortuous path toward my idea of excellence.
So the short answer is: it takes as long as that painting needs. That may be a duration so lengthy that it will sound silly to you when you hear it or, if I'm in the flow, it may fall off my brush in a blessed afternoon.
The painting above is in the second category and so I look at it with gratitude for the fact that it didn't offer resistance during its creation. It happened in a smooth and sure dance in which my brush picked up the right colour and value each time I touched the palette. And, crucially, I knew when to stop and say "done". Most don't happen this way, but I can forget about those and the toll they exacted in order to be created. Just don't ask how long it took me to paint them.