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
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.