The painting on the left, acrylic on paper, 12 by 15", goes all the way back to college. I considered it my best painting at the time. However, subsequent efforts simply did not measure up, no matter how hard I tried to duplicate the results here. Only later did new works appear that I felt were equal. This has occurred at least three more times, where I create one painting that is clearly better, yet am unable to repeat its success.
The inevitable question is what happened in these works? Was it luck? In all cases I had experience, even if minimal, but somehow everything came together in that one painting. A possible analogy would be a sporting event, where an individual practices and plays, has a game in which they score multiple goals, only to follow with usual performances. If I paint three paintings that are slightly improved over the previous three, then I have genuinely advanced; experience has paid off. That one great game will be memorable, but a slow progression will lead to a more reliable output.