looking forward, looking back

i came to the conclusion that i couldn't continue at the work pace i had set over the past few years.

i didn't have enough time to do all the things i wanted. i had sufficient money to be comfortable, no real worries, no ambitions beyond what i had already done. i was occasionally quoted in the wall street journal or usa today talking about the internet, but it was no longer something i was passionate about.

five years on the internet, especially five of the start up years, was a brutal hike. i wanted to exercise and get my health back, build a home, not talk (the discipline of silence seemed like such a luxury), paint all day, and spend the evenings relaxing with my wife and a few good friends. so i decided to retire.

i did the painting briefcase around this time and afterwards i thought it unintentionally captured my predicament. the briefcase for work sits between the vase and flowers of love and an art museum gallery.

ironically, the briefcase was too cumbersome for work, and had become a makeshift portfolio for smaller paintings. terry suggested the value in looking back over one's own paintings, and now i did that — unpacking the smaller paintings from the nearly stuffed briefcase, and other works from three portfolios stored under my bed.

each painting had the force of a salvaged photo; i could remember the mood and place i painted it. (unfortunately dates eluded me. i don't sign my paintings because they don't seem worth signing yet, but i decided to start making notes about the place and moment on the back, something burchfield did.)

i was surprised at the progress i had made, surprised also at the quality of some of the earlier paintings. after long neglect, thinking i would only discover a string of failures, i would fall in love with some scrap or inconsequential puddle among these old paintings.

they occasionally had something beautiful about them that was struggling to come to the surface, and that fully emerged only in a later painting.

i felt as though i had been working harder, and doing better, than i had realized in the moment. also: that there were some inherent rendering skills in me that were struggling to get out even before i was aware of them.

i paint with more skills than i am consciously in control of.

art is not all of a piece, because it is not manufactured or mass produced, it is multilayered, the past and the future can coexist in it.

i didn't enjoy working in the realistic style as much as the more colorful and energetic daub style. but it was good to do more realistic paintings now and again because these were harder to achieve, and focused more different skills on one objective. after the daub method, the realism was getting steadily more confident, and my ability to control pigment and mixtures more assured.

work still took most of my time, so progress was not as rapid as i wanted. i was a divided person, not sure which style, which path, i was going to take.

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