When I'm working on a painting, I have to get myself into what we artists call "the zone" , shifting the mind into a nearly meditative state. I have a few warm up exercises and rituals that I use to make the shift, get all the "stuff" out of my head.
Often the path that leads from the idea to the canvas resembles a Family Circus cartoon where the little boy or girl takes the long way and many detours to get from point A to point B.
I can describe the idea that led to the other idea that led to the inspiration that led to the application of the idea and then the detour that led to another idea that had me try something else, and then , oh, that looks cool, what if I did this, or layer on that, or lifted this.......and so on and so on.
Are you still with me?
The thing is, I get so deep in thought,, and so internal, that it's hard to translate my techniques in simple terms. Like a meditation, sometimes I will be working on something and time just slips away. All of a sudden I "come to" and the painting is nearly done, overworked, or just completely different then my original idea. I'm not in a completely conscious state, so I have no idea what I did, or how I got there. Hours have passed and I have no idea how long I've been working.
I hope and wish for focus, so I can know how I did something, and can repeat it if I ever want to. I'm figuring out that it's just not how my brain works, I need to get into a state of hyper-focus or the works just no good.
I'll take notes, make myself take a break, set a timer, and hope for the best.