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Painting in Progress - from imagination

As I return to the painting on my easel, reworking both the major figures and probably everything else as well, I am put to mind of a lesson by a former teacher, Carol Pylant. She told me to be paint over the edges of my foreground figures when working on backgrounds, so the backgrounds don’t get too “stiff.” Of course, this applies not just to edges. “If you painted it once, you can paint it again,” she said.

There are some variants to this last phrase which come to mind:

I think a major source of strength in a drawing or a painting (or a computer program, for that matter) is the ability of letting go of work completed so that better work can emerge.

This was vividly reinforced for me when I watched Steven Assael paint for two days in February. He built up beautiful passages again and again and destroyed them… mostly. Traces remained, in the layers of marks and paint and texture. Same thing, last month, watching him draw the figure, and encouraging students to make radical changes even in the last few minutes of a pose… destroying what was there to open a path for something much better to emerge. As time goes on I can see that opening that path over and over again is absolutely critical for successful work. Destruction is often a prerequisite for successful creation.