Making a painting is always a mysterious process. The relationship that an artist enters into with a surface whether canvas or wooden panel over the course of several weeks or in some cases, years, imbues the once inanimate materials with something like life. Now the painting has become like holy water, like a well worn beloved book read and re-read over and over, like a cherished relic of childhood safely preserved on an upper shelf to be taken down and contemplated from time to time. This is what happens when we love something, we are making an investment of who we are into something or someone. When I think of it like this, painting is an investment. It is a very powerful way we have of sharing our life with others.
Consider this from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams;
"Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. it takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
And this by one of my favorite British painters, Frank Auerbach
"Painting is very much a rehearsal. There are certain things one learns, certain connections one senses, certain things that were difficult that become second nature... performance accrues. And then, if you're lucky, it transcends itself."