Friday, May 10, 2013

Don't Look Back

I try not to look at my painting after I'm finished.  Before that moment—as I'm running out of time or light or patience or energy, or when I've reached the point where each new brushstroke makes things worse rather than better—I take one last quick look around the painting, check to see if my eyes can flow around and across it without getting stuck on an inconsistency or something that bothers me, and then STOP.  I force my eyes away.  Then gather my materials, get back to my car, load up, and drive home—still not looking. 

If I stop to look after I'm finished, I can get caught in an endless cycle of wanting to fix every last little disorderly thing, and that can be deadly, both for the painting's look of spontaneity and for my spirits, which need to be treated kindly at this point.  I've given it all I have, for the moment.*  My best practice is to let myself detach and go in peace to whatever I need to do next.  I tell myself:  Your painting belongs to that moment under the tree—or in the field or by the stream—and that moment is done.

*I should add:  After a break of an hour or two, I MIGHT make a small change or two later that day, at home; but if the painting requires any more substantial re-evaluations, I try to go back to the original site the following day.  Sometimes it's worth trying. But usually, with small on-site pieces, if it doesn't work in one session, it won't work in two.

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