One of the challenges I face as an artist (and I suspect I am not alone in this) is producing new work on a consistent basis. I do, but no matter how much, I know I should be producing more. There are so many things that get in the way: paperwork, marketing, framing, cleaning (not enough of this), etc. Still, I work hard at making new work. But sometimes it feels like there isn’t much coming out.
Every artist has to develop their own patterns of work. I have heard that when Claude Monet was painting the Cathedral at Rouen, he had an apartment that looked out on the scene. Each morning he would look out the window and select a canvas from many that reflected the light conditions at the time. He would paint for a few minutes until the light changed and then select another canvas. This was necessary as he was observing the play of the light and color on the surfaces and they changed rapidly. Obviously, it took longer to complete one of these paintings that it would have if he had sat down and painted start to finish. I have to wonder: did he ever despair? Did he wonder if he was ever going to finish anything?
For good or ill, I tend to work a little like that, but probably not for the same reasons. I usually have, if I am honest with myself, eight or more pieces in various stages of completion. I may work on some preparatory imagery and then put it aside for weeks or months. I will cut plates that sit, waiting to be proofed. Proof plates that wait to be editioned. I think that, for me, sometimes an idea just resists coming to fruition. I know something isn’t quite right, but I cannot decide what to change and so I push it to the side and let my subconscious mind deal with it for a while.
Then, occasionally, I get in a burst of finishing things. I’m there right now. I completed an edition this afternoon that I have been sitting on since October of last year. A small plate. One color. I felt it needed some minor adjustments. Then this week, I picked it up, tweaked the plate, proofed it, adjusted the ink color, prepped the paper, ran the edition, curated and done.
Who knows, perhaps some day I will smooth this whole process out and I will work pieces straight through from start to finish. I doubt it though.