Brenda Goodman, Impending, 2018, Oil on Wood, 80 x 72 inches

Looking back at my work over a 53-year span, I sometimes think that I could do this or that passage of a particular painting better now, but I have never gone back into a piece once it was done. I always felt that I did the best I could do at the time and it wouldn’t be right to go back years later and change it or improve it.

Impending (Stage 1)

I also have never destroyed or slashed a painting in progress. I work on each one, and still do, until it finally feels right, and when it’s right, it’s right!

I’ve been thinking about what it means to have a painting feel RIGHT for a while now. Every artist, no doubt, has a stopping place in a painting when they feel everything works together and is therefore done. It’s intriguing to think about it because every artist has a different RIGHT for themselves. How many times has someone come into your studio and said: “It’s done! I wouldn’t do anything else to it!” This can be really irritating! Yes, it might seem spontaneous and fresh at the point they saw it but you know it needs more work. The trick is to work more deeply into the piece and preserve the freshness, while also developing it into a richer and fuller image.

Impending (Stage 2)

So, something clicks in my head when a painting is done, when it’s right. It always has but there is something about feeling that rightness of a painting when I’m 75 that feels so very satisfying.

Impending (Stage 3)

Here is a series of images that show the progression from beginning to end of one of my paintings, “Impending,” now showing at Sikkema Jenkins. At about stage 4, someone was in the studio and said, “Oh, that curved figure is great! I hope you don’t change anything.” But I knew the painting needed more and I added the grey ball shape. Without that shape, the space felt empty. And because of the black shape looming above, I wanted the curved shape to be hugging or embracing the ball. Protecting it. Trump actually came to mind when I was painting the black shape so it made sense to me that the ball shape needed comforting. That’s what I felt listening to the news all day. From far away, I also saw the grey shape as negative space. That makes it even more complex in its interpretation, depending on the perspective of the viewer. So that shape, which I added at the end, is what made the painting so poignant for me. Then I knew it was done. It was RIGHT. For me.

Impending (Stage 4)

Brenda Goodman is a seventy-five year old painter. Born in Detroit, she spent thirty-four years on the Bowery, and now lives in the Catskills. She has exhibited widely throughout the United States and her solo show at Sikkema Jenkins, A Lighter Place, runs from January 24th to February 23rd in Chelsea, NY.