March 30th, 2008

Insights in a Hot Tub

G and I have made it a Saturday night ritual to take a dip in the hot tubs at Elisa's Spa ( and we have some of our best conversations there. Last night G got to talking about a breakthrough she'd had in the studio. Her latest series of paintings, she said, were looking dark and murky and overworked. She wasn't surprised that they weren't selling, because she was getting bored and frustrated painting them.

Then, she said, she'd had a breakthrough and started getting more adventurous and playful; she got the idea to revisit a series on Japanese youth she'd done a couple of years ago. She described using brighter colors and bolder brushstrokes. She knows from experience that when she's enjoying creating the paintings, that enjoyment comes through on the canvas and the paintings sell better.

I was listening intently to all this, because I'm always interested to learn about G's creative process - but also for reasons of my own.

"How do you know," I asked her, "when you're on the verge of a breakthrough?"

G laughed. "When I'm about ready to kill myself! I think it's the point where I'm bored with the painting, and feeling frustrated, that I realize I have to do something different."

And that's when it clicked - because that was exactly how I was coming to feel about "The Queen's Courtesan". It was feeling like a dark, blurry canvas, a chaos of unformed pictures upon which I'd already expended too much paint and too many brushstrokes while only making the picture more shadowy.

I asked G about the story, and she offered some excellent suggestions. Also I am going to try for a new approach to the story.

So I am going to be taking most of TQC offline temporarily while I re-edit and re-envision the work. I would like the story to be stronger, more focused, and more fun.