“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw? I’m sure it would go a lot better.” The man replies emphatically: “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw. I’m too busy sawing!” — Stephen Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Hi from Mindo, Ecuador, where I am property sitting while my friends are preparing to move their pets from the USA to their new home at latitude zero! Although the current painting lacks one more day of extreme focus, I am taking a timeout from art to sharpen the saw!
Several factors have held me to a schedule of very-long painting hours; the painting will travel to a new home in another country – hopefully in time for Christmas! There is also a very delicate factor of losing the spontaneity in the painting; if one’s focus veers elsewhere, it’s very difficult to resume with the original freshness. The painting – and the psyche of the artist – suffers!
Several years ago a painting baffled me; although each painting session went well, it left me with extreme exhaustion. I surrendered to almost-instant sleep, and fatigue greeted me upon awakening. While painting, I resumed my focus and allowed the painting to take the reins and gallop forward! During one step-back critique, I noted the swirls of energy that flowed through the painting, and I thought, “Eureka! I’m transferring all of my energy into this painting! That’s why I am so tired!”
The current painting consumes my attention, and I marvel at the energy that swirls in front of me. I work with practiced patience as the painting nudges me forward from general washes of color to fine-tuning the details that make it believable while also whimsical. After painting for four or five hours, I stop and switch to more-demanding physical activity, like going outside and whacking weeds with a swing blade! I’ve often said that painting leaves me more exhausted than using a shovel and wheelbarrow!
After four days of total isolation and extreme focus, I realized the need to step back and travel to town, interact with people, then return to add those final touches. Rushing those details is not an option, and with a fresh eye I will spend a handful of hours fine-tuning weak areas that I will notice, but probably no one else would spot!
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the almost-finished painting. I’ll be back soon with stories of my saw-sharpening trip to town!