the finished picture in the garden where the picture was made

After a painting is ‘done’ I tend to ponder it for a while and look at what could be better or different. I am, I think, also still editing; casting a critical eye over whatever I have done. So it’s a kind of mix between learning and confirming its finished.

I try to be as dispassionate as possible but that is tough. I often think something is OK. Paintings I love tend to lose their appeal the longer I view them and the ones I dislike I put away only to find a few months later that I suddenly think they are interesting or even ‘good’.

I think interesting is a fairer standard to live by. I want, I think, people to feel they can be intrigued enough to engage with the paining and see what they want in it. My work is, after all, abstract and will mean different things to different people.

So this is the standard by which I try and evaluate what I have done.

I quite like this (still unnamed) painting. I am less sure now what it might be ‘about’ than when I started. I shouldn’t worry but it will nag at me until I pin it down. Meaning I realise is important to me, otherwise why would I bother to paint in the first place.

So I paint to record and create meaning for myself, and I hope in doing so to create some kind of meaning for the viewer, but it doesn’t have to be fixed or the same as mine. I test this out by showing it to a few people. They see things in it that I did not put in but which are certainly themes in my practice. Its great these surface unintentionally.

I like its forms and its movement.

I am less happy with its colours. I feel they are joyful but a little uncontrolled. I make a note to try and make more muted or more considered colour decisions. I smile as I make the note for, in the act of painting, I know it’s a rule I will break!

I am also less happy with its execution. I think the tortuous route I took to make it shows in the finish. At one level I don’t mind. Its interesting. But on the other hand I think maybe it would benefit from more refined handling? or would that make it boring? This is an open question I need to consider and try out in my future work.

Most importantly I see this as a route I can do more with. I see forms and rhythms emerging that feel right and which I can repeat and play with. That’s exciting and gets me motivated to make some more.

As I think of this I go and check out some of the older finished canvasses I’ve got stored, with the intent of reworking them.

As I take them out to select which ones to work over I realise several have a very similar look and feel to the one I have just made. Is this exciting and good? Or am I simply back into ‘seen it all before’ territory?

I decide I do not care. For some reason I am excited by it all and the resonances each piece has with each other over the timescale of their making. Although the older works are at least 8 months old I think they showed potential, and potential I did not see before. I saw them as ‘executions’ from my sketch book from a previous period….and essentially ‘done’.

I don’t think that they are executed as well as the most recent painting, but they could be.

It all feels serendipitous. I feel I have stumbled on a focus. A locus where my voice can develop and enrich its vocabulary and range. I think Omphalus might indeed have led me to the centre of things, just not the way in which I thought it might.

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