When do you know you’re finished? You don’t. You stand back, observe, reflect, go for a walk, sleep on it, and in the middle of the night, you realize there’s something wrong.
An uneasy feeling, specks of dust that make your nose twitch, becomes a rock-hard punch to that same nose, each speck of dust transformed into a lead and concrete block, so heavy getting out of bed becomes a burden.
The eyes are all wrong. Not all wrong, but need a touch of paint here, three strokes there, more shade, less shade, more color, lighter, darker, more variation, but without spoiling the chosen palette.
It’s not easy, but nobody’s chasing you for results.
You’re your own boss, your own critic, and nobody’s watching.
But you know where it’s wrong, and where it can be righted.
So, out with your paints, brushes, cup of water, rag, and tea.
The problem is that essentially, you are satisified. It does look okay, and it can be improved, but the fear is that you overdo it, you alter the painting and make it worse or even: the painting is ruined.
If it were a geared machine, I am thinking Victoriana, one loosed screw, one lost screw, and the entire contraption starts to wriggle and shake and, ultimately, its parts loosed, the Gargantuan contraption shatters, its parts spilled to the floor.
Looking at this painting the morning after I finished, and judiciously thought to myself, I’d like to see what the colors are like in the morning, I can see that the colors are more or less satisfactory, but the x and y are eyesores as is the z. But compared to Girlfriend with Loft, for example, which precedes The Triangle of Circular Squares, where the girlfriend is a suggestion rather than a true figure, why am I after a more realistic depcition of these people?
I’m no hyper- or photo-realist. How could I be? I have trouble being a realist.
But in this painting, the mode was set, and I have to proceed within its own logic. That may mean I have to repaint it. Time stops. And then action.
I suppose it’s like rehearsing a play. You go over the lines, the motions and emotions, scene after scene, act after act until you reach the end and you are satisfied. And the curtain comes up and it’s the true and final and first performance and there’s nothing between you and the audience and they laugh at the wrong places and don’t laugh at the right places and the critics will tear you apart and you mumble and stutter, forget your lines and oh, disaster.
Why I feel lucky to be in my studio, my paint, brushes and me – alone, except for the dozen or so paintings I see waiting to be painted before me.
I will make this painting ‘better’, but I have those other lives, characters, Actors caught within the framework, to save, resuscitate, unpack from their boxes, unleash from their beds, and so on.
After all, I bet that Mona Lisa smile was a mistake. I mean, nobody smiles like that, but Leonardo, being the frenetic Genius that he was, told himself he’d get back to it someday, then things came up, and he died.
So, perfection is fine, if ever you are granted infinity, and a hyper-realist will tell you that it’s highly unlikely, but I Always think of Shakespeare. The pressure was on, the fury of his Genius enraged, and who the hell has time for notes and folios when I’ve got put on this show, and give Birth to this next child – and oh, let the Others bawl, dirty, scantily dressed, snotty loves of mine who now live, beautifully imperfect, accidentally becoming, yet complete, while this next cries for life and I cannot delay…