I have no interest in painting randomly. I would rather take a deep dive into any given subject matter and see if I can learn from it. Painting using a series of related images works for me. I never have to wonder what I am going to work on next and often I will work on two to three canvasses at the same time This allows me to switch from one to the other, giving each one a rest so I can come back to it with fresh eyes.
There are some benefits to this. Exploring one subject matter over a period of time enables me to eventually know it inside out. As an example, a number of years ago I was exploring the use of an underpainting in watercolour. For this I used a number of cat photographic references. That exploration lasted about two years and countess paintings. Along the way I got to know feline postures, attitudes, gestures.
I have also used photos of my friend Carol repeatedly over a number of years. Carol, a red head, has the most interesting, naturally curly hair. It has a mind of its own. It needs to be treated with particular care and is endlessly fascinating to me as subject matter, maybe because I have hardly any hair of my own. I have struggled with some of these references, painting the same image over and over again, striving to capture the gesture or the light or the mysterious ‘thing’ that hooked my in the first place. Obsessing over it? Perhaps. Striving to solve the problem, for sure. These efforts did not always meet with success. Which only made me want it even more. I am sure poor Carol thought I was stalking her after awhile. Sorry Carol.