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Where's my lightbulb?

I rarely begin a piece having made a decision about what the focus will be. I find that just getting down to the work and committing to exploration creates an environment for those light bulb moments to happen; those moments when I suddenly realise what a particular painting is going to be about.

I never start new work with a plan or a vision of what I want it to eventually become. I might hold loosely in my mind ideas about colour combinations I want to explore, or materials I want to work with, but these thoughts are mere starting points, not a prescription to be doggedly applied throughout the painting process. Serendipitous moments of chance will happen as I go and feeling free to harness these, work with surprise elements and make new discoveries is essential in maintaining momentum and interest within the work.

There's no predictability about when these moments will make themselves known - it's never the same twice. I might have done one day's work on a piece, or I might have been working with it for a week or a month! I just have to be patient and observant. I have to bide my time and just keep working and ignore any frustration at the pace at which each unique painterly journey unfolds.

The most important thing is to remain alert as I work, watching what's happening on the surface but also being finely attuned to my emotional and cognitive responses to what's unfolding before me. I watch myself for that slightly electrifying buzz of excitement that happens when colours start to sing or a satisfying meeting point of materials emerges. I know then that I have something there that's captured my interest and feels worth pursuing and exploring; and either that feeling will grow or it will dissipate, and it's these feelings that guide the onward journey of a painting and inform consequential decision making.

Sooner or later, one aspect of the piece will begin to draw my attention consistently, it could be the colour palette, a line, a shape, or a part of the composition that feels good and grounded. I know then that the journey with that painting has really begun.

I also have to bear in mind that as those light bulb moments begin to happen, my ideas might also begin to evolve about what direction I want to go in and which aspects of the painting I want to explore further. I remain open to the possibility that a painting might offer me more than one light bulb moment as my ideas shift and change as I travel through the work.

It can be a challenge maintain my awareness of and receptivity to these pivotal moments, especially when distractions abound and I may be feeling time poor or have a deadline looming, but one thing's for sure, these things can't be rushed.

Light bulb moments will appear in their own sweet time providing I honour the work with patience, commitment and self awareness.

Where's my lightbulb?
Where's my lightbulb?

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