The eternal Artist's Dilemma is: How do you know when a painting is finished? It's something that I've dissected a lot recently, as I try to finish 3 troublesome paintings, and prepare to start a large commission. In trying to assess whether a painting works (for me), I take into account a number of factors:
- Does it bounce back to me something of the original intent and emotion - especially important when a painting starts from a word or experience.
- Do the colours work all across the painting, not just in sweet, tempting little pockets?
- Have I in some way gone beyond the original idea?
- Have I created a self-contained world?
This painting took a long time to finish. It was inspired by the vibrant memory of Spring trees seen on a daily car journey. One morning I said to myself that the passages of colours were so sumptuous that I wanted to dive into them! I began painting in a burst of energy. Once I start and colours are painted on, wiped off, gouged, knifed, stroked on, swiped on, I find that it is indeed like swimming across a tapesty of essences and meanings. They keep coming into focus - then a slash with the palette knife, a sweep with a loaded brush, and they slip out of focus.
For me, painting is life splattered across a surface, my breathing, feeling, movement pressed and encapsulated into brushstrokes. I have to excavate the image from the paint, and to re-experience my lived experience......incidents, events, relationships made and broken, redefined, a change of mind, all the time surfing on edges, textures, bursts of time and colour.
In the end it's that indefinable something that either lets the painting stand or fall. 'Finished ' can be some sudden flourishes of last minute indecision. Searching and finding are the sirens that call me back to paint over and over again.
And then you simply hope that it may meet some recognition in someone else.
('Diving Into Green.' Oil and acrylic, 91cms by 61cms)