1. Inspiration: often in the form of some narrative element (a poem, a concept)
2. Gesture: like Francis Bacon, I tend to paint first, and find the gesture, the skeleton of the painting, while experiencing the visceral quality of the materials.
3. Storm: the usually inefficient, at times unpleasant step that takes the form of a manic swinging to and fro, between two disparate parts of myself, back and forth between graphic clarity and complete obliteration. And excessive scraping of paint.
4. AHA: a clear minded self remembers one of Diebenkorn's notes about painting: tolerate chaos. Making a drawing from the painting can sometimes help me find the skeleton within the chaos. Drawing clarifies the editing process. More scraping, but this time I might smile while scraping.
5. Magic: when the composition feels like it has become itself fully and the brush strokes sing to each other, and there's a unified song that I recognize and love.
I've tried to tweak the process, to change that challenging third step. When I was at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, a visiting artist, Frank Bowling, asked, "why do you need to create a tornado every time you make something? (and why don't you clean up this studio?!)" To some extent, the tornado is still with me. There's less destruction and more intention, but there's still stormy weather. But...I've always loved storms.