Questions I wished they asked

 I have been very fortunate to have been interviewed multiple times over the years. The questions have come from national level reporters, local radio personalities, documentary filmmakers, bloggers and countless teachers and children. There are some questions I get all the time.

Do you have a personal favourite?

What inspires your paintings?

How long does a painting take?

The list of regular questions would be long, with themes likely connected to one of these.

My friend Terry Fallis, a best-selling Canadian novelist, wrote a blog post yesterday answering a question that often gets asked but he had been avoiding answering around the economics of writing. Essentially, how much can you make?  The answer may shock you. Check out the Immutable Economics of Writing

A question on the positive side of my painting life that would be fun to answer would be this one.

What are the painting experiences that feel the best?

Thank you for the great question. The answer is an easy one, which may at first sound simplistic and cliche. The painting experiences that feel the best are the ones when I am in "the zone". Now you might ask, aren't you always in "the zone"? Absolutely not. 

"The zone" is an extra special place, like a favourite spot that you only get to visit once or twice a year. When you are there, time stops or ceases to matter. In that sweet place the paints, brushes, and brush strokes seemingly choose themselves and a painting emerges from a pin prick of inspiration. 

If I look back through my collected works - now over 2,300 paintings - only a few would jump out and trigger a memory of having been fully in "the zone".

My first portrait of Tupac would be a good example. That painting just seemed to appear out of nowhere.

The portrait of Robin Williams that happened on the day he died just poured out of me.

There have also been many live painting experiences when time seems to get suspended.

Painting the Frankenstein Monster at Robbie Picard's We Love the Oilsand masquerade ball stands out. Trying to paint 10 paintings in a single day for the opening of my Wild Colour exhibition in Fort McMurray in 2016 was a total blur. It also required me to complete a painting an hour which left no time for taking pictures. 
Creating McKay Bear with students at the Fort McKay Youth Centre seemed magical. 

You will find yourself on a perilous slope if you think that you need to be in "the zone" every time you set out to create something. If you heave that expectation on your back, you may never create again. It is an unrealistic burden to put on yourself. Instead, build a creative practice from a place of discipline and determination that leaves the door open to the possibility of taking blissful trips to "the zone". These unexpected excursions will fill your bucket and inspire new ideas and directions. 


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