Trail at Kim, 11 X 14" oil/BFK
Having this time in Albuquerque to devote to painting has been great, because I'm rediscovering the value of patience. Painting plein air, we get used to working as quickly as possible in a race against the changing light. Back in the studio, we might still put too much priority on finishing a work quickly, scrapping it if it doesn't come together well right away. After all, Hawthorne advised making lots of "starts"--if you run into trouble, he said, "know when you're licked, and start another one." The painting-a-day trend in recent years reinforces the need for speed. And there's nothing wrong with any of this, as long as we slow down sometimes to take a breath and patiently work, or re-work, a painting.
Stagecoach Rd at Kim, 11 X 14", oil/BFK
Both of these paintings have been reworked extensively over the last week. This one was posted a couple weeks ago, but after a few days I could see it wasn't working as well as it could. That's one reason why it's a good policy to sit with a painting for a time, and allow yourself to see it objectively. Titian used to turn his paintings to the wall for six months before finishing them, so he could make objective assessments and complete them with a fresh eye. We probably don't need to let them sit for six months, but a few days, or even just overnight, can really help us see the work. As John Cage said, "Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes."
Give it some time, analyze the work objectively, and if there's anything you're not happy with, fix it. That's where I disagree with the toss-it-and-start-another philosophy. There's a lot to be gained by struggling with a painting, regardless of the result. You either end up with a better painting or a lot of lessons learned. Sometimes both!