A friend, who is as yet quite unfamiliar with my work, reacted with a sadness of spirit to the images here. I tried to tell him that I rarely paint ‘happy’. I have found that happiness, either in content or in process, is not necessarily all that it promises, and from my perspective as a painter it is positively negative. I am working on a book just now, and while researching today I came across a quote by Lucien Freud which stuck a chord in me. I offer it then – verbatim:
A moment of complete happiness never occurs in the creation of a work of art. The promise of it is felt in the act of creation but disappears towards the completion of the work for it is then that the painter realises that it is only a picture he is painting…Were it not for this the perfect painting might be painted…It is this great insufficiency that drives him on.
Lucien Freud, Thoughts on Painting, 1954