This is the bit I love: taking paint off. And yes, while there's plenty of times when I'm just changing my mind and doing the non-digital version of hitting ctrl Z (not all accidents are 'happy accidents'), I'm talking here about the process of removing paint to reveal something new. A benefit of building up so many layers is being able to cut back into them... or in this case, wipe back with a rag, my second favourite tool. The glow you get from putting down a glaze (a transparent top-layer of diluted paint) and then wiping back can't be matched. It also beautifully highlights any surface texture, and in this painting, the nature of the 4 different types of underlying 'tiles' (shadecloth, canvas, linen and lace infilled with ash and charred earth ) each come into their own with this method.
Ok, and what's my first favourite tool? It's a painting knife. Not just any one, but my special go-to tool of choice. One which fortuitously snapped a quarter of a century ago, giving it an angular end, perfect for precise edges, delicate mark-making and even brutal scraping. Perfect flex, perfect balance, and perfect control. I even mention and use it in the Painter in the Woods film.
And now its snapped again. And there's no control Z.