Being a painter is really like being an alchemist. Alchemy is transforming lead into gold and painting is transforming base materials into art. The key word is transformation. The obvious starting point for this process of transformation is to take inventory and ascertain the inherent properties of the material you are working with. Unlocking the hidden potential is the challenge. I see many artists forcing their materials to do things that are not natural for those materials. For a painter a simple example would be the ground one is working on and the most important question is to what degree does that ground resist or absorb paint. These are the kinds of fundamental questions one begins with. In order to end up with paintings that seem natural one needs to work with the inherent properties. Recently I have embraced the idea of beginning the paintings on an absorbent paper surface. There is no substitute for this and there is no equivalency in any medium. Paper absorbs paint in a very specific way that no other surface does. The images that result are therefor specific and unique to that particular ground. This is a small but very important example of working with the inherent properties of the material.