In the studio there is a moment when the painting begins to "breathe," when I feel my blood pressure drop and there's a sudden sense of quiet. That's typically how I know a painting is done--I can feel it.
That feeling of rightness is always a bit of a shock. Often it feels like I'm watching it happen, as if the work is painting itself.
Good paintings come out of a place of curiosity and openness. So I listen to jazz, or classical, or 70's funk while I paint--whatever it takes on a particular day to maintain that open state of mind.
Each painting is a search for harmony and emotional resonance, growing out of multiple drawings, miniature color studies, and doodles. They drift over tabletops, stick to the walls, or scatter on the floor.
But at some point, you have to let go of "the plan" and let the painting tell you what it needs to become. Experiments in space and color eventually give rise to something more. The result is almost always a surprise.
I've heard artists of all types acknowledge the unexpected resolution as part of their creative process. As Robert Frost put it, No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
When a painting moves a viewer it's a gift, but it's a gift the artist received first, alone in the studio. Sharing that feeling with others is the reason I paint.
- David Michael Slonim