Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Patience, Why?

Over the years I've made a number of quilts. I learned about quilts when I lived in Indiana, and I quickly discovered that the whole process was more enjoyable and relaxing when done without a sewing machine. So I starting making quilts by sewing all the pieces together with nothing but a needle, thread, and a thimble, and then I stitched the pieced top to the batting and the back—again entirely by hand. Obviously, it took a long time to complete a bed-size quilt, but, for whatever reason, getting it done quickly wasn't the point. For me, I loved the process. 

One day someone was looking at my work and said, "I would never have the patience to do something like this." The comment confused me; it didn't make sense. I never thought that I needed patience to make these pieces entirely by hand. And now, thanks to Theresa Sweeney, columnist for Stone Voices, I understand why the comment didn't make sense to me. 

In the spring 2014 issue of Stone Voices, Sweeney begins her column, "The Art of Patience," like this:
As an artist I work in all media, but drawing with pen and ink has always been my first love. When people look at my intricate and detailed images, they often say, "Wow, I would never have the patience to do something like that!" I tell them that it really has nothing to do with patience. Patience is what you need when you're standing in line at the register and the salesclerk calls for a price check for the woman in front of you . . . . Times like those are when you need to willfully summon restraint to cope with the gap between what is happening and what you wish were happening. 
So I understand now why the comment about patience didn't make sense to me; patience is not what's needed when making art. In fact, Sweeney says that if you need patience when engaged in an artistic endeavor, walk away. It's quite possible that you are tethered to your expectations, fixated on the outcome. 

Art is a voyage of discovery. Leonardo da Vinci advised us: Do not be tethered to your expectations. By wanting a certain outcome we jeopardize what wants to have life. We endanger the passion and joy and flow of the process—and that is art. 

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