I have always worked on one painting at at a time. The beginning stages generally move quickly, carried by the momentum of my inspiration, but the finishing details grind nearly to a halt as my perfectionist tendencies start to surface and I begin to question each color and stroke, to use analysis to identify the correct next step - as if a painting is solved by logic rather than birthed from the collective unconscious.
Musing on this, I recalled the quote above by Jack White from the documentary It Might Get Loud. I thought, how can I do something similar in my painting process? How can I put it four steps away?
I decided to force myself to work multiple paintings at once. I had a theory that if I had enough going, it wouldn't be possible to hold all of the details of all of them in my head. I was trying to create a way of tricking myself into adopting a beginner's mindset every time I return to a painting.
I now work my paintings in groups of five, with two to three groups running through different phases of the process at a time. I work in layers and have to wait for one to dry before I begin the next.
With this new process I currently have 10 paintings in progress and have completed a whopping four(!) since the start of the year. In the past a medium-sized painting would take me four to six weeks to complete.
I am still overcoming some initial inertia pulling me back toward my old habits but am pleased with the progress so far and the way it is shaping my paintings.