the five stages of painting

I know that this blog entry is late, but I have a good excuse: it’s about procrastinating!

I’m not sure if procrastinating is something that all artists do, or just me.  But judging from the times that I’ve organized shows, I think it may be all artists.  I have hung shows where the work was still wet, oil paintings of course.  And I’ve noticed that entries all come in just before any deadline.

My current procrastination has to do with my upcoming show at the Nikkei Museum.  Although I have known about the show since the fall, I must admit that I have spent too long in the cogitating state, where I assemble materials and ideas and think about how to create work around them. Now things are coming together, and each day in the studio is very satisfying, but a week ago I was in the depths of despair.

Here for me are the stages of painting:

1. Joy!
This is the stage where you get accepted into a show or some other creative project. You are elated and realize that your talent is being recognized and appreciated. You randomly hug members of your family and chatter nonstop to your friends.

2. Cogitating
You gather ideas for your artwork. This stage is a great excuse for buying all the art supplies you have been coveting at Opus, specifically that lovely circle of bright coloured inks in my case.  (Note: I haven’t actually bought them yet, as I purchased two and am still unable to figure out how they are different from diluted paint.) During this stage you do a lot of reading, research and observation and spend long hours in the shower releasing your right brain thinking. Your hydro bill goes up but it is all in the name of creativity.

3.  Procrastination
You have some ideas, but you’re not sure if they are good enough.  You wonder if you should think of more or get started.  You notice that your favourite hockey teams are playing that night and watch them. You prepare an complicated dinner to everyone’s delight. You go shopping or to a concert or even to a gallery. You groom reluctant cats. You go to the studio, but you get sidetracked by a small project or just cleaning out your paper drawer. You do anything but work on your project and you feel guilty.

4. Panic
Suddenly a deadline is looming or something has changed and you need a piece of work right away. You begin working quickly, painting and prepping several panels at once, perhaps even 14 in one case I know.
You are painting and working but nothing is going right.  You fear that you are a fraud and not a genius after all, you are in despair that you will never be a great artist. Why did you waste all that time before?  Service jobs with a steady paycheque start to have appeal.  Family and friends avoid you, as any little thing can set you off.

5. More joy!
Somewhere in the panic, you are forced to make several bold strokes and suddenly your painting is falling into place. You love the artwork, it’s coming out brilliantly. You keep painting with great hopefulness.  When the painting is finished, you put it on the wall of the studio and admire it.  It is wonderful, the best work you have ever done, how did you doubt yourself?  You are so happy.  Much hugging ensues.


Then you realize that you need to make 13 more as good as the first one and you move back into Stage 3 (procrastination) or Stage 4 (panic). 

  My latest painting which is my current pride and joy.
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6 thoughts on “the five stages of painting

  1. I love the new painting!!! Looks absolutely gorgeous. Also the five stages of painting are quite similar to the five stages of essay writing which I am experiencing right now….procrastination is everywhere!Also I am happy to be on the other side of the country during the dreaded "Stage 4" Yikes!

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