time and patience
Because my paintings evolve in their own organic way, and in their own time, I need to be very patient with them and not push for a finish too soon. Their progress and resolution happen in a way that seems outside of clock or calendar time. Continuing to add more and more layers and paint until there is a moment when the painting comes together into a visual whole, rich and satisfying means staying in the moment, not projecting forward to the end result. Equally so, it means letting go of what is covered up or "lost" (and I always say that nothing is ever really lost in this process.)
Following this path throughout a painting is an ongoing challenge--to respect each moment for what is evolving and maturing in the painting, to avoid being satisfied too early in the process, or with a mere display of technique...to give the paint an honest chance to speak. Spontaneity and impulsive, radical changes are important aspects of my work, adding to the layering and richness of the painting, but not necessarily speeding anything along. I don't believe that my work reaches its highest level without patience for this unfolding process.
I work mostly in oil, traditionally one of the slowest ways of painting, so this approach fits with the form of my work. But I don't mean to ignore forms of painting that call for a faster pace--for example, plein air painting or watercolor, nor the many serious, accomplished artists who explore pure spontaneous expression, wet in wet painting, or any other approach to painting in which the work comes along quickly. Focus, persistence, patience, allowing the work to evolve in its own way, holding to high standards, and not settling for easy solutions are important for all of us. These qualities are seen in an overall body of work and don't necessarily have much to do with measurable time spent on any one painting. In the big picture, fast or slow, clock time is beside the point.
(Photo above, works in progress stacked in my studio.)