I've never been the most patient artist....mom...person. I admire patient people and the result of their patience...carefully conceived and meticulously detailed art, quiet conversation, thoughtful approach to problem solving, and just being in the world. None of that has ever come to me naturally though. I'm more a what-is-the-most-efficient-path-to-get-where-I-want-to-be person. I know there's room for all of us on the planet, but I suspect that the happiest are those who experience joy at both ends of this continuum.
Specific to the creative process, patience can be the difference between a stellar outcome and mediocrity... Stellar bringing joy; mediocrity, not so much. Several years ago, after learning basic skills to lay floor tile, I became enamored with mosaic. Small mosaic doesn't require enormous patience. Yay. I've made some pretty cool mosaic tile garden pavers. I've also made some lazy girl tiled pieces. After a series of decently executed but largely uninspired tile work, I decided it was time for an exercise in patience and skill building...a patience project.
Another expression of my impatience is that it's difficult to keep myself in a seat for very long. My job finds me in a few half day or full day meetings every month. One strategy to stay in the seat is doodling. I can fill a page with intricate designs and keep favored pens in my purse for that sole purpose. I wouldn't call it great art, but the doodles inspired the design for my patience project.
And winter inspired its timing. Tennessee winters are gray and cold. I always need a big project to get me through to Spring. That year I decided the project would be to design and execute a detailed mosaic on the closed fireplace in the front room of my house. I lifted a handful of doodles from a page of doodles that I had done during several long meetings and sketched them onto the fireplace, filling in the empty spaces with other images as needed for balance. I ordered small stained glass tiles from an ebay store that I liked and a good pair of tile nippers.
This is what happened.
I found that I could work for about 4 hours on a good day with several stretching breaks. Since this was a direct application, I sat cross legged on the floor with a sheet draped over my lap to catch the tiny glass shavings that happen when nipping glass tiles. I didn't always work that long, but also learned that it went better if I worked long enough to get in the zone. There's a rhythm that emerges between hands and brain after a while that makes for better flow. I don't know what the science behind that phenomenon is, but every artist knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Though not perfect, this project did help me learn the art of patiently attending to detail. I also turned into a glass tile nipping wizard...sometimes I felt like I could tell the tile what I needed and it would break perfectly under the pressure of the nipper. I honed my design skills by spending time playing around with scale and placement of the elements. There are a couple of finished elements that I've never been happy with, but I won't repeat the mistakes that I made in their execution either.
I can honestly, and gratefully, report that this project has had a longstanding influence on my ability to access the patience within. I would love to say that I have learned to be so very patient that it feels natural to me now. It doesn't. It's very much something I have to consciously practice. But I can also report that it's easier now than it used to be and its practice brings me joy.
Hi, I'm Donna. Long time artisan/creative. Full time work in nonprofit world. Mother of two adult sons. Currently, also mother of two cats.
The patience project. Because patience is a virtue. And a creative challenge.
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Tile and wood floor...this year's winter project...kitchen renovation