It seems to me that one of the failures of art today is that so many artists need instant gratification. They are in a big hurry to get to the end result, so their work has no depth.
For me, the process is the path to gratification. People always comment on how long it takes me to finish a painting. Jim Gill once called me a ‘hung-up painter,’ and that bothered me for a while, but now I say I’m hung-up on the process and it’s okay.
Scraping, sanding, washing off – starting over again and again is the way I work. Most of my paintings take several months, sometimes even several years, on and off.
This ‘Family Portrait’ is actually the second version. I did one, sold it, but couldn’t get it out of my mind. I wanted to do it again and this is the result. Why did I paint myself mostly using green? I don’t know. But when I did that, I knew it was right.
To be honest, I have to say that Alice Neel, one of my favorite painters, was the complete opposite. No layers. It’s all right on the surface. She painted only while the model was there.
But she achieves a psychological power and a painterliness that is stunning. So go know what is right!