Two years ago there was a fire in my studio in which I lost twenty years of accumulated artwork. Even though I had no desire to sell it, or realistic intention of fixing the problems that had become increasingly apparent through living with it, for some reason it was left to the fire to create the full-stop that this document of my artistic life clearly needed. Friends and family thought it was terrible; I thought it was a bloody relief.
It wasn’t about anything as gloriously romantic as catharsis, after all I hadn’t instigated it. It was an accident – it was just a line drawn in the sand behind me. It was the line that symbolically separated the old life of struggling to financially support a painting career from the new life, where I was in the position to be able to earn enough from painting sales to maintain a painting career without other jobs.
I have had two years now of near continuous painting with nearly no distractions. Consequently I also have two years of failed canvases and drawings that I dare not show, let alone attempt to sell. I need another full-stop – another fire. But this time I will be burning them myself, and it will be a pleasure.
I have decided that I need to slow down with my output and if collectors are supporting me by buying the work then I need to be sure that I have applied myself to the fullest in that work.
So there are going to be fewer shows (future solo shows that are mounted are certainly less likely to be consistently themed shows) and less finished work – much less finished work… but I hope that it will be appreciated that the work I send off as ‘finished’ is, in my mind, stronger.
I have been working solidly now as a full-time painter for two years. Near day in, day out; sometimes twelve hours a day. Particularly in the last six months of this time I have seen a strengthening of my technique and the development of an increasingly self-critical eye. This has reflected in the positive comments the work has received and it doesn’t deserve to be ignored; it has to be treated like a gift.
I will use that eye and I will be more judicious in self-editing. If every piece doesn’t stand stronger on the lessons learnt of the piece before then it doesn’t get out of the studio.
If the work is too easy then there’s no point in doing it is there?