Often I hear “I could never do that; I don’t have your patience”. Patience is not an essential ingredient in creativity. In fact, patience undermines the path of discovery. As we begin to write, paint, dance, cook we are explorers. We explore driven by our passion for discovery. This passion does not require patience. If we feel the need for patience in our perseverance then, we are simultaneously losing our passion. When you feel you are obliged to finish, tidy up, or correct your work then passion has evaporated , discovery is unlikely, and the work is quickly becoming respectable, ossified, and clichéd. You have lost your way by following your sense of obligation. You have lost your way when your felt the need for patience to be your rescuer.
When an artist begins with a burst of enthusiasm, a reactive idea, they are all eagerness and rapture. The fun of painting, the fun of writing, the joy of cooking is tangible and limitless. George Inness described art as living in “beginnings” and, being ruined by whatever happened after that. Consider this. Beginnings can be protracted affairs. A painting can have many beginnings. It gets to start over whenever you return to it. While you paint you know that you are not using patience as a sustaining tool because, someone who is being patient hopes for an interruption while someone who is enthused hopes not to be interrupted. While I am enthused and on a voyage of discovery I want to continue I find interruptions to be irritants and thwart discovery. Artists, Writers, Scientists are at their best when they are able to sustain their attention without effort. Sustained attention without effort is the best definition of the “Flow” state. Artists want their audience to sustain their attention without effort. In that condition, that relaxed condition, that stress free condition we have maximum access to our stored memory. We have maximum access to associative memory. Metaphors and insights , new patterns and connections bubble up before us. Our brains are operating at maximum plasticity. Beta Waves are peaking. None of this works when patience is required. We invoke the muse, as the ancient Greeks advised by getting in the mood, relaxing, taking deep breaths, and participating in the present moment. By wanting something to be good, by wanting a particular outcome, we jeopardize the results of our experiment. As Leonardo Da Vinci advised us: ” Do Not Be Tethered to Your Expectations”. As Picasso said.” Follow the Paint”. This works when you are looking at what the paint has to offer in this moment, not what you want the paint to offer. It is the difference between following an enthusiasm and depending on patience. It is the difference between finding and discovering versus the burdensome act of searching for something that isn’t there and, insisting that it must be, insisting that you will put it there. That is the path to frustration. It is not the path to rapture, to discovery. It’s why Picasso said, ” I don’t seek , I find.”
With these thoughts in mind I want to show how I use this process. In example 1 I have an older painting of mine which would require patience for me to continue with it. Therefore, I quit on it. I decide to make a new beginning. I do this by finding another image which might harvest aspects of this older painting as its beginning. I begin by cutting the painting in half. Next I turn one of the halves upside down (example 2). Now, I have found a beginning for my new idea.
example 2. and 2a.the older painting cut in half then, turned upside down.
Allow me to also show you my deliberately blurred photo which I thought might suit this new beginning ( example3.) The photo was taken by quickly moving my hand while depressing the shutter with the appropriate settings. The image is simply constructed upon a slightly curvilinear version of single point perspective.
In example four I begin to explore what the paint can do as a surrogate for an atmosphere, the atmosphere I once found on a street in Florence, Italy. But, that feeling of mine is now gone, lost to another time, a vague memory rekindled by a photograph. Now, with paint and this older underpainting I find a new atmosphere. I am not sure where it will go. I let the paint suggest possibilities to me (example 4). Then, in example 5 I test the idea of figures and their effect on scale. I am now stealing ideas from the photograph. That brings me to my most recent state, example 6.