I worked all day yesterday and today on The News. According to my studio journal, today’s painting session was the thirteenth. I’m almost finished. People who know me laugh whenever I say a painting is almost finished. Some paintings have been almost finished for months. But if the drawing is good and there are no accidents, I can finish a large painting like The News (The News is 44″ x 60″) in 12-16 sessions. So The News is about par for me.
People visiting my studio (I don’t let visitors in very often) are baffled when I say this or that painting is unfinished; they look finished to them. But I see them in my mind’s eye and until I satisfy that, I am propelled on and on.
I used to be fast–very fast. Early in my career a painting never took more than a day or two. Sometimes I’d finish several paintings in a single day! I was proud about my speed too, “If a painting takes more than a day, it fails–it’s not fresh,” I’d say. Or, “Spontaneity and directness are all that matters,” and other hogwash along these lines. I admit it’s hard to carry a painting over a long campaign; much can go wrong. But if the vision is true, it can carry you as far as necessary–no matter how long. Plus, I notice that painters who focus on the spontaneous tend to paint the same thing over and over.