Never Only One Painting at a Time

In a comment on yesterday’s motivator quote, Gayle included this sentence, which got me thinking about how many paintings I work on at a time:

“…rather than trying to finish one then move to another (as advised by some people around me), something propels me to work in what seems to be a disorganized manner —  but I am slowly beginning to realize that these works are all feeding off each other thus generating new ideas, even though the design/subject matter of each one are quite different.” — Gayle

Four Small Waves Paintings by Skye Scottish Artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Each of these is 15x15cm.

While I may be applying paint to one canvas only at any particular moment, there are always several others in various stages. From “still an idea bouncing around” to “first textured layer waiting to dry” to “I’m deciding if it’s finished” to “I don’t feel like this today” to “I haven’t decided what to do next” to “I’m saving it as a reward for after some admin” to “It’s next”. I do have a main path I follow from starting to finish a painting, but I always pause to ponder the view and smell the flowers.

There’s a difference between meandering to the extent nothing gets done and working on multiple things while still remaining focused on a primary task (the painting on my easel) and getting things finished. I like variety, so while a layer of paint is drying, I’ll work on another. Paintings all feed each other, sometimes literally as leftover paint gets used to start small paintings. An idea isn’t often used up by trying it once, so I’ll do it again and again, sometimes side by side, trying to narrow the gap between my visualised and actual outcomes and exploring impulses or ideas that come up.

Finish one thing then move to another is theoretically efficient, and forces you to keep at it till it’s done. But I choose not to work that way. My path may be less straight, and require more steps to get to the end, but it’s the route I enjoy.


3 Replies to “Never Only One Painting at a Time”

  1. I CANNOT do more than one painting at a time. Lol I tried it…it drove me crazy.. But that doesn’t mean it’s right or’s what the artist brain can handle . I admire how an artist can have more than one painting going on at different times. I am good at multi tasking but not with art…plus plus. I don’t have the space. Lol

    1. Space issues do make it trickier to work on multiples. I certainly work on more now I’ve a garden studio where I can put things to one side and pick up something else.

  2. Marion, it is interesting to hear that you have multiple paintings on the go at once. It made me stop and think about my own way of working. When it come to my writing projects, research projects, and even gardening, I do the same thing. I have multiple projects underway at once, all in different stages. But with painting, I only have one painting in progress at a time. I think it is because I have so little time for painting. I hope that once I am retired or semi-retired, I will have much more time for painting, and then maybe I will adopt a similar process to yours.

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