10 February 2016

Patience, etc

(Apologies for the wavy photo - trying to avoid reflections from shiny paper!)
Coming upon this drawing by Richard Busk (Untitled, 2001, 60x84cm) in "Drawing Projects", I heard myself thinking "I just don't have the patience to do that" even as I registered my admiration for it ... and indeed, the desire to replicate it.

How many times have I heard the "patience" sentence from people looking at work at quilt shows, or even been told about their lack of patience when they're looking at my embroidery (which is not all that overwhelming).

A placatory rejoinder is along the lines of "you don't need patience when you're doing something you love" - and that came to mind as I contemplated the drawing - contemplation fuelled by "breakfast" at a local cafe -
In the book you read that a drawing is the history of its making - how was that drawing made? I looked for a starting point, clues to laying down and taking out, the sequence of actions - the clarity of the trees against the sky, the reflections; smudging elsewhere as the surface was built up, other marks overlaid.

What I thought was my impatience was something different. I would be quite happy to discover the structure of the scene, to collect up and put down its elements to flesh out that structure, to spend quite a lot of time doing that - if I knew what I was doing ... or knew what I was working toward. (Yet can there be a successful outcome without the danger of it going wrong?)

The problem was twofold, or perhaps manifold: what materials to use, what scene or subject to choose - and most of all, where (how?) to start. And how to keep going. And when to stop.

Patience - the capacity to tolerate problems. Not having patience implies a need to do only those activities that are free of problems. How realistic is that? How does anything (call it progress or call it learning) happen without some sort of problem that, identified and grappled with, moves things forward?

You're doing something you love - you don't need patience because you feel that, with a little attention and persistence, you can straighten out the current problem, be it the need to overcome boredom when making the same stitch another 120,000 times, or the difficulty of choosing just the right colour for that particular spot. What you need are strategies. You come to love what you're doing, imho, when you have "enough" strategies to deal with the problems and suffering that come with the task.

Well this is getting to sound like a diatribe, but it's just me at this moment - an impatient person - writing down something for my future (forgetful?) self to read and remember.

And speaking of remembering, the drawing from the book reminded me of those in a little book that turns up from among the books on my nearest shelf from time to time:

I wrote about it years ago (here) in relation to greenness, as it consists of drawings and photographs of gardens in Cornwall, based on Andrew Marvell's poem.
The text says that John Hubbard's charcoal drawings "might as easily point to the origins of mapping as to those of writing"; they "suggest a way through material, and thus carry about them indications of the way in which a wood or a river valley might function." Had I read that when first seeing the little book, record of an exhibition at the South Bank about 1990 (I don't recall actually reading the text, just looking at the pictures!), it would have been complete gibberish to me; the drawings themselves were incomprehensible
- what did they show? how can that be a garden? But I loved the poem, and the bookyness of the little book; it continues to give pleasure - and enlightenment.

"To 'see' a landscape is only the beginning" ...

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Margaret, I enjoyed reading the updates on your blog. Particularly this article and the mention of John Hubbard's charcoal drawings.
Looks like your work is progressing well,