In real life you can't easily paint over a bad choice but in art you can, so it's OK to go ahead and be reckless. There is something inherently satisfying about creating an image out of pure intuition and letting impulses lead every decision. The beginning of each new piece can be fun and lusty like a new love and so for the first three or four weeks of building my paint it's almost constantly boasting and flirting and changing. I think it's at this point that I am most inspired by it. The colors are brave and the surfaces and compositions are filled with flaws. I usually have about 30 of these beginnings going at once in my studio on small boards and large canvas.
There is a longer and more frustrating period in the life of the piece where I'm trying to finesse and uncover the heart or idea of it and also to control the chaos and flaws of its childhood. It's like writing a story without knowing the plot. Mistakes are made, shallow ideas played out, thoughts trashed and reborn. I'm just hoping it will deliver a message soon. Some of my paintings complete quickly. Some take years to resolve to the point where I can title them, and others never will. The young scars that are obscured or changed by influence from a sister painting may never fully disappear. Lately I am conscious of how much more beautiful it is to see them peeking through and they have become an increasingly important elements of my mature work.
Building paint in this way opens a path to experimentation with composition and layering that gives the paintings their own histories as well as life as group. Watching whatever emotional content or narrative message take root in a composition is the final reward. It is what I am after and it presses me to interpret the work. I have slowly accepted and invited viewers to solution the work as well. It is truly satisfying to find the completed thought and to watch others try to find it. It is the reason I have continued this visual conversation for so many years.