Each artist has his or her own way of starting a piece of work. Some use still life, some need to go out and see it, and others develop it in their own way.
In early years, my dad would buy canvas and stretch it himself. Later on he found that tiresome and went with the traditional pre-stretched. But his process often stayed the same. He would have his old art desk in the corner of his bedroom with his brushes sitting in turpentine which was an old bread pan worn down by years of oil and turpentine. Smoking his cigar, while playing solitaire and staring at the blank canvas, he would take the paintbrush from the dirty turpentine and stroke it across the top of the painting and let the paint drip down the canvas. Then he might turn the canvas on its side or turn upside down and apply the same method. He would sit and stare until something formed – whether it be a face or eyes or something that would catch his eye and then he’d paint. His palette consisted of a piece of aluminum foil piled on with paint from 30+ yrs past. It almost became a sculpture in itself.
Rarely was a painting ever done in one day. But I wouldn’t say never. He would sit on it for awhile. He would never show anyone until he was done with it. There were times when, after being away from it, he would go in and literally paint over the entire thing…just wipe it out. I’d walk by and ask, “What’s wrong?” He’d say, “Eh…picture wasn’t working out.”
On one occasion, long ago, he hated what he painted so much he took a little knife and sliced up the canvas and said it stunk. He was temperamental that way. He would often show my mother the painting once it was done. She would be very honest which he loved about her. She either loved it or didn’t like it. But nothing would influence his decision. If he liked it, that’s all that mattered.
He wouldn’t paint just on the weekends either. His routine consisted of going to work, having dinner, going in the other room, lighting up his cigar, putting on his classical music and playing cards while painting. Same routine each night. Whether it was on a canvas in his room, or on a sketch pad on vacation, to a hospice brochure in the hospital room; painting was his outlet, his passion, his enjoyment.
His artist’s statement about why he paints couldn’t describe him more:
For me, it’s instinctive and pleasurable. When it’s not anymore, it will always be instinctive.