With that patch of unworked white steadily diminishing, I’m getting so close to finishing the first layer of the skulls that it’s almost painful. In answer to Gary’s comment on the previous post (thanks for that), this has been an exercise in patience and stamina, with curiously little emotional impact from the work. You might think that repeatedly painting skulls would turn me into a melancholy fellow, but I’ve not thought of death to any greater degree than usual while doing this. I find the idea of my own death challenging, but not particularly terrifying – it affects my work intensely because I’m extremely aware that my time is limited by the fact that one day I will certainly perish, which means that I probably have time to make a hundred and some large paintings before I “shuffle off this mortal coil”. Since a particularly bad car crash in the late nineties I’ve been profoundly conscious of my mortality and this inspires me to be more productive, so the image of the angel of death isn’t depressing to me, in fact I find it quite inspiring, as a spur to get on with the wonderful experience of living and “to make best use of the talents wherewith God has blessed me”, both as a teacher and as an artist.
I’m very excited that tomorrow I should be able to complete these skulls in their first layer. I’ll soon be able to move onto finishing up the skeleton and adding warm and cool to the skulls, followed by highlights of white and a darker sky.