A truly excellent artist, who I am proud to say is a good friend of mine, told me a story of a scientist who asked to study him as he painted. The scientist patiently sat, watched and said nothing. After a couple of hours the scientist who was probably attempting to make some sense out of the artistic process, stood up and asked to be excused. Upon questioning, the scientist remarked that he could make no pattern or sense out of the painting process. There appeared to be no great plan in either the selection of colours, the picking of brushes or even where to apply the pigments. The end result was certainly a fine piece of art but how it got to that point from bare canvas was a complete mystery to him – a random stroke generator better explained how the painting evolved – perhaps even chaos theory. Maybe art defies explanation. Does art need an explanation?
This story came back to me today as I was painting on the “50 Years of Our Flag” Project. I was applying a bold dash of colour. I immediately knew it was a good stroke. It felt right. When I stepped back, it even looked “right”. But how did I know? For every good stroke there can be many “bad” strokes. They feel bad. They look bad. They have to be fixed. The best easel days have more good strokes than bad…It seemed to me that when an artist is in “the zone” the creative process is more like subconscious chaos. The “zoned in” artist is still immediately in touch with what is good, what is bad and what is ugly. Maybe it is best not to ask how or why – just be content that the painting might be successful. There is still lots of work to do :>)