My Love-Hate Relationship with Painting

Yellow and red abstract landscape painting in oil and cold wax medium.

Sangria Love, 2016

I was up against time, preparing for a show and in a painting frenzy.

As is my usual custom, I wipe off excess paint from the canvas I'm currently working on, onto a spare canvas, which is how the next painting begins.

Sangria Love was that spare canvas, and it seemed to get off to a good start.

The painting flew through the fun, creative stages of possibility with ease. I thought, "Wow, this is cool. I am cool."

A base of creamy light colors and dark browns were quickly followed by reds. A little bit at first, some orange, then a little yellow, maybe a teeny bit more red, and so on.

Overall, I liked where things were going but the painting felt flat. Still, I was afraid of messing things up.

I became coy in my color use, and got stuck for the longest time in that agonizing phase an artist knows too well: This is shit. I am shit. Ugh. So ugly. This is hopeless.

And then, using lighter hues and with a swipe of the rubber spatula above the horizon, the painting started to sing. Softly at first. "Hmm. Look at that." A few more scratches and layers later, there was a duet. Can it be? I was loving that atmospheric look. A little more. Then trumpets blared and angels sang. Well, maybe not. But it was done.

The painting survived and so did I. I thought myself unique in this creative process – the push/pull love/hate – but I have learned since then this isn't so. It is simply the artist's way.