I have begun finishing koi paintings. It’s a strange process finishing a painting because it’s such an open-ended and uncertain process. Of course, in truth, finishing is nothing more than continuing to paint until one is “done.” If you have a very specific notion of what the image should look like, arriving at “done” is mostly a matter of nose grind-stoning. But it’s very possible for a picture to be elusive right until the very last minute, which is kind of what I’m up against with these koi — and this is all the more ironic since I’m painting some of them from preexisting images. All I need really do is just copy my image (the painting’s are enlargements of something), but somehow mystery enters during the translation. I don’t recognize the paintings being at all identical to their sources — indeed they are so different that I can honestly say I have no idea how they will turn out.
I get some sense of what novelists talk about when they describe their characters taking over a novel while it’s being written. I knew I was making progress on a painting when the koi started swimming — and that’s a good thing. I want them to swim. But I don’t know where they are going. And you’d think I would know.
Why is the artist always the last to know?
Above, still unresolved swimming going on.