When I work on panel paintings, I take pictures of the process. It helps me see how ideas progress, how some elements remain important or visible while others become part of its history and only partially seen. I don't have a painting all planned out when I begin. It isn't interesting to me to work that way. Rather, I begin with one or two ideas, and block in loose areas areas of color, or shapes. Throughout the painting process, in writing and imagery, I connect overarching concepts with everyday observations. In this painting, grocery lists, patterned areas, bits of my own prose, ideas of strength in loss, hope in hardship, and symbolic notations build layers of experience. I have been thinking about stories, mine and those of others, and developing these stories through the slower nature of working with oil. Even though oil takes longer than watercolor, I do want my paintings to have a sense of spontaneity or intuitiveness like my works on paper. When an idea arises, I paint it. If it doesn't work, I move it or paint it into the surface. It's still there, it just becomes something else. Then as the painting nears completion, looking at the process photos allows me to step back and perhaps approach it more objectively. It is like looking through a reducing glass, seeing the painting as a whole, and somewhat removed.
The pictures (above) were taken in July, when I was working heavily on this painting. Last week I looked at it again (it had been turned around in my studio for months so I couldn't see it), and declared to myself that it is finished. But funnily enough, now that I look at it (removed again) on my screen, there is an area I may change. We'll see. It's ok to me that there is that question. I think that leaves it open, approachable, and a representation of experience.