Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Patient Discipline

Recently, I read a quote by the artist Sandra Blow that referred to "the patient disciplines of the studio".

That struck a chord with me because that's how I've been working.

I've set myself a list of six things to do every day. These ensure I keep moving slowly and steadily towards the work I want to produce. Every day I tick off what I've done. If I don't manage to tick off each item, it's OK; I turn up again the next day and keep going. It's "always the beginning" and I'm still in the game.

The result is, of course, that as the days, weeks and months have gone by, I've accumulated folders and boxes full of photos, sketches, studies, models, words, articles, cuttings and so on. Now I have to think what to make of them all.

Rainer Maria Rilke said that the poet should enjoy what would appear to outsiders to be the dull, repetitive chores of writing poems. The sorting, the editing, the rewriting, the polishing; in short, the doing of it all.

This slow, methodical process has suited my somewhat reclusive mood over the winter months. It's also laid down in me a little more discipline and resilience. Of course, I still have days when I simply can't be arsed and I bunk off into the hills or down to the coast. But it doesn't happen very often and once it's out of my system I sit down, shut up and get back to work.

One more quote. The artist Chuck Close says "You start off with a blank canvas, and day by day, week by week, you add a brushstroke here, a brushstroke there, and something comes to life in front of your eyes. What could be more magical than that?"

I'm finding more pleasure in my work than I have for a long time. It's not very exciting, but I don't want it to be. I want it to be magical.

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