This morning, while painting, I kept asking myself: who am I painting for. For me? For you? For “posterity”? I ended telling myself just paint. But how do I know when a painting is good? I have to keep going on a painting until it feels right. And right to me can change from one day to the next. So it takes time to know if a painting is good. And it has to feel right (to me) to be good.
Sometimes someone comes into my studio and becomes enthusiastic about a painting that, to me, is still in progress, not finished. This doesn’t happen as often as it used to but it can, sometimes, still throw me, set me off track, at least for a little bit.
Last summer a couple visited from Montreal and picked out a painting, saying they would get back to me. So, needing to support my painting habit, I set it aside, thinking I might work on it later if I didn’t hear from them. That same painting was singled out by several other people. I had it photographed for the Montreal couple. Currently, the image of that painting is featured in a magazine and on a local calendar for 2013. It wouldn’t have been my choice but I wasn’t consulted. Still, I don’t particularly relate to this painting even now. It must have something in it I don’t see. Maybe, it really is okay, but just doesn’t fit into the vision I have for my work. Maybe it is a little side path; or maybe it will become the main road someday. That does happen and it is always surprising when it does: when I am ahead of myself in a particular piece and don’t know it yet.
At the opening reception for my recent exhibition at the Secord Gallery, someone asked me which painting was my favorite. I didn’t (and don’t) have one. I had a better feeling about this show than any other. I paint a lot so not every piece is what I consider my best. But I would still like it if they were. I learn as much from the failures as the good ones. It’s just that the good ones are so special. Of course, I would like nothing to leave my studio that is not the best. But it does happen. It’s only when someone’s positive response to a piece I don’t like stops me from continuing, that I have a problem. Then I feel I’ve let myself down, not been true, honest. And to me, painting, like all the arts, is a search for the truth.