the snails pace

I am entering the end zone on a series of paintings started in the midst of winter, six pieces to take count, worked simultaneously. Some people call this phase, living with the work which means putting it somewhere you can see it while you go about your day. The thinking is you will notice any bits and pieces that require tweaking or make a decision about whether or not the work is complete.

I cannot attribute the quote to the correct source but a very famous painter, Picasso I think, when asked when he knew work was finished said, when it leaves the studio. Many of us struggle with the overworking problem, taking it past the point of its natural ending with fussy little corrections that ultimately detract from its whole. Other painters hear they stop to soon, use not enough paint, or would benefit from putting work on the second easel, the back burner so to speak.

For me, given this gift of time my year of stepping back is offering, I am going to think of it as the snails contribution. I have the space (more so with time than in a physical way) to give work time to breathe. I am going to try and finish up what I see in the moment as the bits and pieces on each of these in the next month that leads into a two week away trip. When I return I will look at them once more with fresh eyes.

Meanwhile, after the initial burst of starting new work with bold steps, the thing I have learned about working on a few pieces at once is there is a cycle, the rush, the stall, the landslide. The rush is exhilarating and feels like a creative explosion of new things, the stall is a bit of the dragging time of getting it right, and now I am almost ready for the landslide! That includes a few days at a time of setting aside the end piece and for a while it feels like I am the hare, but ultimately it was the tortoise who won the race.  Make haste slowly as the old proverb says, practice patience. Try not to respond to the question, nor cringe at is asking – how long did that take you? As with so many things, there is no right answer.


One thought on “the snails pace

  1. Questions without contextual basis are challenging. That ending paragraph – whew – I needed to pause after the preceding paragraph – the one about the “offering” and “fresh eyes” – the landslide. Six!


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