Yesterday I wrote that I did not like making process paintings anymore, and then I wondered—did I wonder or conclude?—whether by “process painting,” I meant “abstract.” It went something like that anyway. And I was right to shift my gimlet eye to abstract and away from process, for, as it turns out, process is not the enemy, it is abstraction. I will now give a more-or-less real-time explanation of why I am able to say these words today. (I have been up since 3:30 a.m., and my eyes feel abraded.) As I mentioned in the paragraph below (that statement goes against nature, nature as I have always known it!, nature as I love it!), I was working yesterday on a process painting, and I despaired because I hated it, because I foresaw a long, boring slog of making a painting that would never interest me, never for a moment, never would it interest me. But it was not a slog, and I was wrong, wrong about all of it! and this is why: Well, first I will say that I was not wrong about all of it, only about the greater portion of it. The process part of it was boring, so I was not wrong about that, but mostly I think it was boring because I did not know where I was going with it, I was just processing it, building up the central shape without knowing anything beyond that, only the shape, only the building of the paint that made the shape, only that. That is boring. You can see how that would be boring. It would not, perhaps, be as boring if there was a guiding vision, something I was driving for, but I had no guiding vision, I had only the shape, and the paint I used to make it, over and over again. Over and over, that is the process of process. Where the hell am I? And then there came a time, this time was yesterday, sometime in the afternoon, when I began to see what the painting might be, I began to take the first risks with it—and that is how paintings are launched, or when they are truly launched, not from their safe mooring from the shore, not from the beginning, but mid-sea, when the risks one takes could potentially spell doom, when there is no safety, no swimming back to shore—and a vision came into focus, to phrase it as lazily as possible. Did a vision actually come into focus? No. The painting did, but not a vision, not something I saw, there was no Jesus in the toast, I just started to take risks that worked, and the painting began to appear. What I am trying to tell you—badly and inexhaustibly, apparently—is that the painting did not, after all, become an abstract painting, it was not an abstract painting, it was a landscape! I knew all along the central shape was “pond,” but that is all I knew, and it is very difficult to hang the wardrobe of one’s work on such a skinny peg as that. What is “pond”? It was only a shape to me, it was not visually coherent, the way the words I have been stringing together recently about ponds are coherent (well, sort of). I see in words, I do not see in pictures so much, so when I paint, it is the paint and the brushes that see better than I, it is they who bring forth the painting—eventually, and to my surprise, and in the face of mounting despair, they are stalwart warriors, these pigments and brushes. When pond became “Pond,” thanks to some fortuitous mark-making, I found the painting’s center, its axis, its soul. I found, in short, its story. It was told to me by the marks I was now making, it was told to me by the confluence of paint. I was wrong to despair, I was wrong to forget to trust the process and that the process of process is bleak until it is not. I was wrong, I was wrong, I was wrong. Now I will give you one final, definitive statement, one I challenge anyone to refute: It is risk-taking that makes painting interesting, both in the execution (which only some of you will know) and the outcome (which all of you should know).