My favourite part of any road trip is the beginning. That moment when I step into the car, pull the door closed and drive off into the sunset – because it’s taken us the whole day to round up the kids, lock up the house and pack our belongings into the boot of the car.
I approach painting with a similar mindset. The best bit is when I’ve thought through the composition, mixed up some colours and started laying them down onto my canvas.
Then, from the backseat, somebody announces they need a toilet stop, or someone’s favourite pencil requires immediate retrieval from the Deep Space region beneath the driver’s seat. Only fifteen minutes on the road, and we’ve hit a speed bump.
It’s the same with my painting efforts. Distractions are many. Families need feeding, and more than just pencils go missing at inopportune times. And there’s the small matter of my ‘real’ job. Clients can be quite demanding and sometimes expect outrageous things; like that I do their work instead of painting. Getting just one colour down in a sitting requires real discipline I’m finding.
Another pot-hole in the paint and canvas road trip is that when I start out, I have this optimistic notion that my journey will be a mere day-trip in length: I’ll zip across that canvas with all the speed and determination of a hatchback-driving shopper on a Boxing Day Sales mission.
Of course, this never happens. Instead, I resemble a Sunday hat-driver, cautiously navigating a country road: Vaguely enjoying myself, but growing aware with each passing moment that I might have got myself a little lost.
Painting in short bursts like this is wearing. Despite consistently chipping away at the three paintings I currently have on the go, the finish line still a long way off. Currently, my painting has moved beyond a Sunday drive and is now more of an interstate road trip.
I start to wonder if I have enough fuel in the tank. Motivation dips and my paintings run the risk of becoming abandoned by the side of the road, while I hitch-hike back to more familiar hobbies with speedier resolution times.
Discovering myself at this point, I knew it was time to do something drastic and illogical. I needed to do the painting equivalent of stopping at a roadhouse and ordering the house special. Sure, it could have adverse effects, but for the short term I might feel recharged.
That’s right: I started another painting.
For the sake of context, you should know that this is actually one in a series of paintings that I started a few years ago, of my favourite red vinyl chair. (The irony of motivating myself by continuing with an even longer-unfinished project is not lost on me.)
The ticks indicate paintings already completed (stay tuned), and the circled sketch is what I proposed to paint.
Unlike my current paintings, this one is tiny. At 10 x 10 cm, it’s a drive ’round the block. I set myself a time limit of no more than a morning and got to work.
Here’s the result so far. From start to finish, it took about 2.5 hours, and I tell you – I feel so much better for it! There’s more tweaking needed before I sign my name, but the bulk of it’s done and I still have a full tank of fuel… *happy sigh*.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to ferret about beneath a car seat to find my favourite pencil.