Inactivity

indecision-3 I hadn't worked on this painting at all in several months when my friend Jesse, who runs the Loggernaut reading series here in Portland, asked me if he could use one of my paintings for the website. I sent him over a few images and he settled on 'Indirection' as being the most congruent with this month's theme - 'Hopes.' Seeing it up there on the website made me feel a bit more motivated to actually finish the damn thing. I always seem to run out of energy right at the critical point of finishing a painting for good, and never taking my hand to it again. It's as though at the final stretch the painting becomes almost a dead weight, something needing to be physically shoved over the last hump of a hill. All the excitement and energy of starting, of the various discoveries one makes during the process have dissipated, and what is left of the myriad of possibilities one started with - everything that could be! - is only this: what ended up. Results. Something from which the raw excitement of potentiality has drained. A certain resignation is required in accepting this, and getting on with the last rites.

The aperture through which I access the painting, from being absolutely wide open at the beginning, progressively narrows, so that by the end I must squeeze myself through a tiny slot to get at the work. It has its own requirements now, and I must accommodate myself to it, rather than, as at the outset, making up my own rules as I go along. Somewhere along the path, the balance of power shifts to the painting, and I suppose there may be a kernel of resentment at having to submit myself to my own creation. Paintings tend to hang around for months, three-quarters or nine-tenths finished, but always with dissastifactions clinging to them that I contemplate and don't feel up to addressing. More pleasurable to work on something else, something newer. And less risky. So fatally easy to ruin things if the hand is not counter-balanced with particular attention!

This painting is in that neglected zone of 'almost done.' The hands need a bit of final polishing, which I find tedious. And the field of marks needs resolving. I realized when I saw the painting on Loggernaut that I wanted the outer edges of the diamond to be darker, almost vignetted, and and the scale of the marks to increase in size as they move outwards to the margins. Working on this painting involves a time delay - because all the brushstrokes overlap each other like threads in cloth, I have to put a set of marks down, and then wait a day for them to dry before I can put new marks over them. This involves exercising patience, perhaps the most important and weakest muscle in my studio practice. I made myself sick this week using Liquin to make the paint dry faster, something I haven't done in a while. I'm more sensitive to such chemicals as I get older, which is probably a good deterrent from using them in the first place.