I've finished a painting - I've started another. The one I've finished I'm proud of, it's good; the one I've started I want to be better, to be my best - at least until the one after.
The problem with painting, with Art of any kind is that it is impossible to gloat for too long; that as soon as you complete a work of Art that you are happy with you then need to expose it to others; to the possibility that you might be wrong about how good it is. And, even in the happy circumstances that others also like it, there are the nagging thoughts: how are you going to top that? will you be able to do it again? is that all you have? With these thoughts comes the chill - is that the moment you have been building to? Is that it?
And this is why I start again soon after I finish, because while I am painting, I am creating, I am not done, not yet finished, I can focus on what I am doing now and not worry about whether it will be my last. True, works of Art gestate, they build through experience, influence and a mental pinball that can take you from A to Z through Pi, patterns, colours and a small nervous breakdown. This process is what keeps the artist alive and to some degree sane. It is completing what you have set out to do that leaves you feeling bereft, lost, struggling to hold on to the word around you; it is a if gravity has given up and you float free from any sense of purpose. So, one by one, you put rocks in your boots, here is structure, here is theory, here are politics, are rules; and slowly you are able to put one foot in from of the other, take the next steps, and begin the next journey.
The journey is an overused and overworked metaphor, but it is what we seek - a solution to the problem of nothing, the problem of the infinite. We look, we listen, we think and drink, we wonder what if and what next, and slowly hammer out boundaries and guidelines that we follow and ignore, until we find something that we can say, something that draws the cosmos close to us and explodes it out again so we can see it for a glorious second. A second only because soon follows the fear, the panic, the questions.
So I begin my next painting - because it is my best idea yet - no, because there is something I need to say - no, because I am scared I will not be able to think of something else to say, and I need to speak, if only to stop the silence.