I was a painting major in art school. Painting, unlike other media (glass, for example) is pretty simple to execute--in other words, anyone with gross motor skills can apply paint to a surface. But that simplicity is so deceptive. Actually making a GOOD painting is very, very hard. Over the course of my undergraduate studies painting became my nemesis. I struggled to find a way to translate the vision I had in my head into something that anyone would actually care to look at.
By my senior year I had abandoned painting for mixed-media sculpture, installation, and then finally performance art, which led me down a path I pursued for twenty years. Several years ago, out of the blue, I started making visual art again. And my creative practice circled back to painting. This time around, I took a different approach: I knew that getting to the place where I made good paintings would entail making a lot of really crappy ones. I had to push through my bad habits, not get too attached to outcome, and keep going even when it was driving me crazy.
Consequently, I have stacks of flat and mediocre paintings piling up in my studio, studies and experiments that I tell myself are the key to finding my way through. I have a number of thoughtful and gifted artists offering feedback and critique, and many of them have said "you're almost there." But there is no roadmap indicating how to "get there." And, in truth there's no "there there." Because the creative process is a continuum and almost never a linear path.
So, a few weeks ago I finally made a painting that I'm happy with. It's really exciting to see the fruits of your labor actually result in something that gives you that gut feeling of satisfaction. But that feeling is short-lived because making one good painting is different than making a series of good paintings. There's no way to replicate the successes of one piece, nor would one want to, because a copy...looks like a copy.
Hopefully one of these days/months/years I will end up with a group of paintings that I love, and will be committed to sharing publicly. But it's anyone's guess when that'll actually happen. And that's painting for you.