Usually I begin a painting with an image in mind, often based on a theme such as a written piece, Buddhist practice or an observation of everyday life. I also try to let something of the moment into the painting while working. I first put down a pattern, using black and white, and from there begin layering colors, often primary ones, to create the final colors, as I near the finish, even though a few coarse pigments have been used earlier, I begin to use them more as the color is more vibrant than with the finer pigments. This creates a stronger, more interesting, and tactile surface. This can be done with a few or with many layers to the finished surface.
Once panels are prepared and sized, I paint individual surfaces, for the most part, with various mixtures of white, pearl, or soft mica-white pigment. This initial white color both prepares paintings to receive other colors and contributes to the final colors, since translucency will be a large part of the overall effect. I also mix pearl and mica white into some of the later pigments to continue the effect of the glowing white underpainting. I follow the white underpainting with black paint to make large, spontaneous brushstrokes and splatter designs that identify each theme and remain partially visible in the completed picture.
On top of the basic white color I often use one or more under colors before laying down any gold leaf and I often paint on top of the leaf to finish the image. Sometimes I put gold leaf before color. Working with the light and dark effect that is dependent on the position of the viewer, I also use warm and cool toned leaf as colors, accents or backgrounds to both anchor the subjects to the picture and to set them apart, or to try to reveal the wonder of the subjects as well as to describe them.
When my experience is recreated in the painting, I consider it to be finished. But each painting ends in a different way; some are long and drawn out, and some are sudden and surprising, such as when I expect to work longer on a painting but then it seems as though a door closes on further painting of the picture. When I have nothing more to say and the overall effect of the color and form seemed to ‘crackle’ with life and also, to my mind, even with sound, the picture is finished.