Woman with Snake


40 x30”

I’m not sure why I didn’t “finish” painting the face of the woman or the snake. The easy answer is that the painting felt finished at this point even though it doesn’t look finished in a conventional sense. All of that is true, but there is more to it than that.


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I didn’t know whose face I wanted to put there. Initially I was using a stock photo off the internet to begin the painting. But I wanted the painting to feature my girlfriend at that time. I was struggling to disentangle myself from a love affair that was clearly lopsided and loaded with deceit. I had already started a more conventional portrait of my lover but had taken a large brush, the kind you use to paint a house, loaded it with white paint and in one quick stroke obliterated her from my sight. The painting hung on my studio wall for awhile giving me courage to do in life what I was able to do without flinching in my studio.

So, I considered simply completing the painting with the face in the stock photo. But I couldn’t seem to do that either. At that same time I noticed I had coincidentally left the snake’s head unpainted too. And, the final layer of paint on the woman did not go all the way up so it looked like she was shedding her skin the way snakes do. Well, those two little features would not have stopped me had everything else been clear, but lacking any resolve about who or how to paint the face I decided to stop there.

Ever since, more people have complimented me on this piece than any of my other new work. And most of them have thanked me for stopping where I did.

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