Brenda Goodman: Backstory

Brenda Goodman, Breakthrough, 1985, oil on canvas, 60 x 84 inches (courtesy of t
Brenda Goodman, Breakthrough, 1985, oil on canvas, 60 x 84 inches (courtesy of the artist)

Brenda Goodman recalls the experience of making her 1985 painting Breakthrough.

Goodman writes: "The middle of the right hand side wasn’t working but it was so beautiful I didn’t want to give it up. I was standing on the edge of the abyss but willfully chose not to jump in. I did not want to 'wreck' this painting but was afraid there would be no light on the other end. I had never before or after felt this anxiety so intensely. The jump would mean letting go of that precious section and I would have to TRUST that something else would appear — and that something would resolve and complete the painting. After days of struggle I finally let go. I wiped out that area, and Presto…the painting was quickly finished. More than 30 years later, that abyss isn’t so scary anymore because I know if I let go of my will and ego and paint out the precious area the painting will finish itself in no time. If you do this over and over you acquire a level of trust that makes it easier. This process, I believe, is the most spiritual aspect of making a painting. Letting go, surrender and trust."