Worst First

You know how when you wander off a trail in the woods and you find yourself wallowing in the brush, ducking under low branches with prickers grabbing your clothing and the ground gets all mushy and wet and you’re thinking it might just be better to go back but then you’d be backtracking which is usually a bummer.

After knocking off some pretty quick paintings, I have been spending a lot of time trying to bring others with a good start to a close. There is no proper amount of time that a painting should take. It could happen in a flash or it could be a long struggle. Both are equally valid. It could take a lifetime to learn how to execute a perfect stroke. And in the end it is only the process that is rewarding. The paintings themselves are markers.

I have terrible time management skills and it is really easy for me to get off the path while painting so I am really interested in procedure. My painting teacher, Fred Lipp has very few rules. In fact he boasts that he can break any rule and get away with it.

One of these rules is: “Always address the worst first”. If there is a sore spot in the piece you are working on, fix it. Now. Well, how do you know what the worst area is? Another one of his rules helps here. “If the question comes up, the answer is yes.” If you are questioning whether something is wrong, it probably is. This works 99.9 per cent of the time.

While working on this last bunch of paintings I have to keep reminding myself to stay focused on making the “worst” better. I would rather be starting some new, fresh faces but I created these problems and I’m trying to clean them up. The procedural rules help and I am grateful for them.

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