I'm often asked how long it takes to complete a work and I don't really have an answer for that as there are so many extenuating circumstances. For example, in this piece, I had no idea what the finished work would look like but only knew it was inspired by autumn's colours and feeling. As I worked, the layers of colours became rich and deep, and because I work on several pieces at once, the other pieces somehow bled into this one. Sometimes colours transferred over and other times it was different methods of mark-making. Once I had decided that I wanted to incorporate a leafless tree, I began to pay attention to the steely blue autumn skies. And then birds...initially they were intended to be crows but I didn't want this to feel like halloween and I was inspired by watching the swallows outside my window when I was reminded of a murmuration of starlings (view on YouTube here).
There are times when the work flows from one step to another and then others, like when I was close to the end of this piece, that I felt something was missing. It is usually at this point I bring the work in our living room and lean it against the hearth to live with it for awhile. And suddenly, one morning as I sat and looked at it while drinking my cup of tea I suddenly knew which marks needed to be added.. Though many people may not even notice the subtle differences at the end, I do.
I also think of the symbolism behind the images that I use - swallows represent hope, opportunities, and communication; the colour orange represents warmth, encouragement and also communication; a tree also symbolizes hope and a new beginning. And though I don't initially choose the images for their symbolic meaning, they always connect in the end.
If I'm painting live, I begin to formulate a bit of a colour pattern along with the shape of canoe or tipi and sketch out ideas for symbols and images that I will incorporate. Usually those pieces don't come to completion until I've lived with them for awhile, and I tend to be physically and spiritually exhausted after focusing so intently on a work instead of allowing it to flow intuitively as I go. But I can do it.