Sketching again today. Partly through opportunity, and partly because the latest painting is winding me up. It is sat on the easel with its arms folded and a look on its incomplete face that says 'Come on then!'
So I'm not speaking to it.
It's got to the stage where I'm looking and looking at it, and I can't decide whether I like it or not. So I've decided to move away from it for a bit. Some sketching today, a water-colour tommorrow, and then returning to the oil over the weekend. Hopefully the distance will let me see it clearly, and so know what to do to finish it!
In the mean time the clarity that comes with focusing your attention on one thing, and trying to capture its essence and appearance, I hope will clear my thoughts and let me see the painting as I once envisioned it. The act of looking at the world, breaking it into proportion, geometry and sweep, of noting how each part relates to those around it, forces you outside your own concerns. It is both calming and refreshing, providing release from the looking of interpretation; which in contrast is full of doubt, uncertainty and the knowledge that you have to make a decision (often the sooner the better - although generally by the time you're at this point it's too late), making it a breeding ground for frustration.
The frustration comes from knowing that the painting is so close - having that gut feeling that it could be really powerful, and somehow complete, but that it's not there yet. It plays on my mind, becoming a mental twitch that flickers every time I glance at the the painting on the easel; it follows me like a sardonic Mona Lisa - but instead of suggesting the enigma of a half smile, this canvas gives a raspberry direct from the school yard: 'Neah-neyh, ne, neah-neyh!'
This, of course, makes the process not only challenging, but A Challenge! I circle around the room, like a boxer sizing up my opponent, establishing weak links - colour jars, line distortions, errors of perspective; preparing to engage in combat - to the death if need be (the painting's, not mine)! Yet no clear opportunity arises. Instead many options present themselves - though of course they are contrary, and drag the painting along different paths; and frankly give me a headache.
Ultimately I will make the decisions, but the weight of it makes me feel that I need more time to fix the problems than I actually will. Finding the soloutions will induce a sense of satisfaction, smugness even, but until then I will diligently run and hide from making the important decision through a process of denial and procrastination.
And, anyway, the painting started it!