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A couple of days ago I met a woman visiting Marfa for some quiet time to work on her PhD in philosophy. We met at the gallery which gave me an opportunity to talk about my work with her and specifically about phenomenology, as I find that to be as useful a system as any in describing my work and its intent.

She asked me where I found the patience to do the work, a question I don’t think I’ve been asked. I did not have a ready answer. Since then I’ve been thinking about her question. Where do I find the patience, being a restless, anxious type? I’m thinking patience is akin to focus and that focus requires a quiet mind, so the question has morphed into “How do I quiet my mind.” The best answer I have for that is to give the mind something to do while I do something else.

All artists have various tricks and techniques to get into the studio and work. Mine has been to clean and organize the studio or clean the house before I start a session in the studio. Here are some other ways I’ve found to quiet the mind and, therefore, give me patience:

Washing dishes
Weeding the garden
Repeating the same task over and over (pretty much how I do a painting)
Taking a really deep breath before I touch brush to canvas
Playing with my dog, Zack
Sweeping the floor