I recently made a joke on Facebook that I had a painting caught in a Zeno dichotomy paradox. The more I thought about it, the more I think that it is a great metaphor for the creative process, and pretty much matches my own painting process.
For you who don't know, or don't remember (I think I first learned about in in high school but I don't really remember. I know that I did have to google it to remember the guy's name though) Zeno's dichotomy paradox is that, when traveling to an end point, one must first reach the halfway point. Once reaching this halfway point, there is of course a new halfway point that you must cross before reaching the end. This devision continues until it becomes impossible to reach the end. This video explains it pretty well.
For me, the first few days of painting seems to go by really fast. I get the base coat, the sketch and place where I want the darks done within the first couple of days. "Alright," I think, "it's now halfway done."
I spend the next two or three days just painting the fur, which around this point I feel like again, I am halfway closer to being finished. Additional elements take a couple of more days, and so on and so forth. As I get closer and closer to being finished, I seem to get less and less accomplished. And the painting never quite gets "finished." There is a saying that a painting is not completed, only abandoned.
I think that this is why a lot of people stop creating art. They keep expecting to reach that finish line with their work, and they cannot, and it can be incredibly disappointing sometimes. I'm not saying that there aren't artists out there who do work that is wonderful and complete within an instant. I know that they're out there doing wonderful and complete work. But I would be really surprised if they too, did not encounter a similar struggle. I heard that if, while painting, Lucian Feud, was not happy with how it was going, he would have to start the painting over again from the beginning. So he too must have struggled against this perfection.
The point I guess I'm trying to make is to not quit when making your own creative work. To know that every artist looks at their work, and think that it's not quite good enough to be done, but it's damn close enough.
Kelsey Jenkinson is a 27 year old artist in currently living and working in Austin, Texas.