“Can I Be Patient”

Recently, I have been commissioned to paint a large mixed media triptych (3 panel painting) that once installed will cover most of an 18 ft. wall that will be visible to the public. The image here is a glimpse of the first panel. I’ll be sharing the context and details of where and when it can be seen in future posts. 

I want to share with you my experience about an aspect of patience as an artist. Not being patient can be a good thing. It can mean you’re inspired and can’t wait to work. I’m not talking about that kind of patience. The kind of patience I am talking about has to do with being patient with your work having to be finished. What I experience at some point during the development of a piece is a period or several periods of confront, or uneasiness, a yearning to arrive at some destination. Anybody that practices his or her creative thing can attest to this. After all I am attempting to create something new, inspiring and soulful. I’ve put in many hours, and it looks pretty good. But that’s not enough for me; I want it to be more. The internal dialogue starts ramping up. So why can’t I make it work? What’s missing that would bring about that ah ha moment? Should I start over? Sometimes the 5 yr. old in me decides to show up and let me know that I really @%$#%@ !!! Other times releasing my 5 yr. old is a way to free myself up. That’s not the 5 yr. old I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the disempowering voice that takes over. It’s a tricky business being a painter, especially when creating abstract work, as there are many places one could stop and say it’s complete. I read that Willem de Kooning spent over a year painting, reworking, and contemplating Woman, I (1950-52).

From many years of painting I say there is an internal muscle that gets developed. I label it patience and trust. Without it many creative endeavors end up marginalized or worse, never finished. It’s a muscle that just notices the impatience like an old friend, and doesn’t resist the feeling. Once I embrace it, I usually have an impulse as to what there is to do next.

 If you are curious or interested in participating in a workshop at my studio, you can get more information on my website here. Classes are scheduled thru the end of May.

(Note: If you are using a smart phone, when you get to my website you will find workshops under the information tab.) 


4 thoughts on ““Can I Be Patient””

  1. You may be pointing at, hinting at, that which distinguishes art from craft. My experience seems to confirm that art requires several concurrent dialogs: one of which takes place between the artist and his own mind, with his ideas about what he is doing and where it should end up. (That is useful at the beginning but if the work actually does end up there, it probably is not art.) Another dialog is with the piece itself; it quickly begins to tell the artist what to do, and when it is finished; i the artist listens. Such things as time deadlines and preconceived ideas can disrupt this conversation.

    I had a big exhibition here a few weeks ago and I really wanted to show a sculpture I have been working on for over a year—but her face wasn’t right.
    I worked on it, and worked on it, until it looked very good. But I realized, looking good and art have little if anything to do with each other. So I stopped and did a quick and dirty piece for the show.

    1. Richard,
      I aways enjoy your insights, and yes I agree the piece at some point does tell the artist what to do. Sometimes when I am not seeing a direction, (Most likely It’s because I see too many choices.) I will either wait, or make a random mark to move me forward.
      That you didn’t show the original sculpture shows that you weren’t willing to settle. Good for you. I believe a lot of good work comes from just having an intention of putting out your best work. On the flip side this can lead to paralysis. This is a very nuanced thing to do as an artist.


  2. Thanks for sharing. I get impatient when I can’t achieve the results I want. I want to tear it up and throw it away but what I’m discovering is that it sometimes leads to a great learning experience if I keep working at a piece. I’ve probably learned more from my mistakes than successes. Looking forward to your class in a few weeks!


    1. Hi Lorna,
      Thanks for sharing how getting impatient shows up for you. I look forward to seeing you in my workshop!


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