“The development of an imagined piece into an actual piece is a progression of decreasing possibilities, as each step in execution reduces further options by converting one — and only one — possibility into a reality. . . . the piece you make is always one step removed from what you imagined . . . after all, your imagination is free to race a hundred works ahead, conceiving pieces you could and perhaps should and maybe one day will execute — but not today, not in the piece at hand. All you can work on today is directly in front of you. . . . art materials seduce us with their potential.”
(Quote source: Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland)
At first this quote may not seem particularly motivational, saying our painting will never get where we see it as being, forever doomed to be “always one step removed“. But instead of fearing never achieving it, rather regard it as always having something to strive towards.
If every single painting turns out perfectly without effort, where’s the creative growth? But if every painting leaves you thinking there was something else you might have done (even though you know it’s not part of that painting, which is finished, really), you’re already painting the next one before there’s a mark on the canvas. You’ve already got the next step on the journey, and the step ahead of that shows a route onwards.