During the two years I spent working on that chair (the one from “Finished! Finished I Tell You!”), I spent a lot of time making no progress at all. For months I’d work my way backwards, determined to ignore my direction. Then the work became so torturous, the feeling like I wasn’t painting it so much as battling the damned thing. (*Important lesson in life of painter: Do not pick a fight with a picture. It has a power source greater than mine and it will kick my ass). During one of the periods when I broke up with it, I thought I could end the cycle by doing the opposite for awhile. What’s the opposite of a painting that goes on and on? One that you finish in a single sitting! What’s the opposite of a chair? An apple! (The logic strains a little on the second point, but structurally they are quite diverse). So I found what I considered to be a really good-looking apple, constructed a little nest for it in the refrigerator and took it out once a day to make a painting of it.
There’s a big case of nerves that goes hand in hand with painting. For me, anyways. Maybe there are people out there for whom it just flows like water. I occupy this weird little space where being able to work is a compulsion, but with it comes avoidance, worry, clinging, and abject terror. When in it, it can be the best place imaginable. Getting to that, there be monsters. Over the ten days my apple experiment lasted, I got a good look at most of those monsters. Which was excellent. Not strictly fun, but excellent all the same. I painted some awful things, and knew that they would only last a day and I could leave them behind me. I painted some things that seemed very meaty to me, which I liked and wanted to explore further, and I left those behind, too. If I only had fifteen minutes, I did a fifteen minute painting, and if the lighting conditions sucked, I worked anyways. By the end, the spell of the dysfunctional chair painting had been broken and I’d grown to really really hate that apple.