My personal approach in painting has many similarities with Masson's description. More generally, I work in 3 stages:
I use this approach on the white surface primarily for reason of keeping the spontaneous in my elaborate working. I find that the act of will in a painting is rigidifying, it lacks what machine work lacks, it lacks the poetry of the spontaneous human intervention, it lacks those small 'mistakes' that the act of will is automatically correcting.
That's about form for form but there is a more essential aspect of automatism and it concerns the content. It's what Leonardo calls 'admirable inventions' in his treatise on painting. When looking intensely at a surface, one always finds small irregularities in the material and the more one looks at those irregularities the more one finds many of them . Those irregularities are Leonardo's 'admirable inventions'. The artist does not create those irregularities, he only interprets them in his own vocabulary, his own mass of referrables (knowledge). If his technique is mature and he does not need to think about technique, the artist can size the patterns of his brain in those irregularities. Each artist has his own tricks. One looks at the material of the color that is deposited on the paper or the canvas to find his brain patterns, another as Miro 'in watercolors would roughen the surface of the paper by rubbing it. Painting over this roughened surface produced curious chance shapes...'. I personally work in the color material and discover there a world that grows by itself. I follow what I discover and I do not impose my will at this stage of the work. In some works, this stage takes 10 minutes, in other works it can take hours and in some other works it can take a few sessions. This is the moment that I express my feelings in the sense employed by Jackson Pollock. I'am not trying to represent something, I just express my feelings in very fast brush gestuals. In the automatism stage I have one session per day for a given work and generally I work simultaneously on a few works. Brushing the colors on the canvas or the paper is a very intensive gestual activity that is pumping much energy. The intensity of energy liberated is, I feel, disruptive of my rational judgement and thus it is important at this stage for me to let things cool down fast. After ignoring for a few days the piece on which I work , I see it in a different light and I then am ready for the second stage of my work.
2. Knowledge imprint.
The second stage of painting is when I try to harmonize the feelings that I expressed in the automatism phase with my knowledge. The paint material and the colors give forms that I follow with a thin brush trying to generate sensical forms. For me this is indeed the stage for making sense out of forms and colors. This I guess is the phase when the knowledge that is accumulated in the brain is imprinting on the canvas. My hand follows where my spirit is attracted and draws the image that emerges. Drawing or painting are freed from the act itself that is somehow executed automatically and are then absorbing my spirit, my thinking, my dreaming. This phase takes somewhere between 15 and 40 hours on average for each work of the TRANSFORMATIONS series. (within a few days I'll start to post copies of my Transformations works) The work is long but time is litterally flying and my spirit is floating around the world as if in a real dream. The work is done when the complete canvas has been integrated in my sense making story. Remains then the last phase, the beautifying of the work.
Beautifying or harmonization is the phase of making absolute sense in term of lines and of colors. The content is firmly established with the second phase. What remains to be done in this third phase, is first finding complete graphic coherence in all the lines and lastly the finishing touches are exclusively reserved for color harmonization. The whole canvas sometimes receives a changed color harmonic but there is no law about colors, that holds its own, out of reaching color harmony over whole the canvas.
I already wrote a few times that I consider paintings are functional objects used for decorating interiors and I feel that an interior should only accommodate finished objects that are decorative and enlightning on a wall.
I indeed have the weakness to think that what appears on our walls reflects on what is going on in our brains, in our lives and in our families and thus I feel that a work of art is somehow sacred. It indeed is a reflection of one's thinking, feeling and worldview.