Saturday, January 16, 2016

How to Paint 2: The Art of Staring

Why a whole post on staring?  Well, because staring is underrated.  I used to think I was a weirdo with the amount of time I spent seemingly doing nothing but staring.  Having been taught to work hard, staring made me feel like a wastrel.  I would sit hours and stare and stare and stare.    Sometimes a blank canvas would await me, sometimes not. 

Imagine my surprise when I read these words:

  • "But as for the rest of my time, the activity I'm most likely to be engaged in is staring.  If staring were an Olympic event I'll be bringing home the gold.  While other people go to work, I stare out the window.  I stare at my dog.  I stare at the blank pieces of paper and paragraphs and single sentences and a buzzing computer screen.  Hours of my day are spent with my eyes glazed over, thinking, waiting, trying to figure things out.  The muse is a sweet idea, like the tooth fairy.  The muse supposedly comes down like lightning and fills your fingers with the necessary voltage to type something up brilliant.  But nobody ever made a living depending on a muse.  The rest of us have to go out and find our inspiration, write and rewrite, stare and stare and stare until we know which way to turn." Ann Patchett from What now?

Validation from a kindred spirit in the act of staring; for it is an act- an active pursuit.  Now there is all kinds of staring.  The purposeful staring I am talking about is goes beyond non-purposeful, diffuse staring with a flurry of random thoughts and ideas and memories and hurts and joys and wants and regrets and to-do lists and, and, and.....

Purposeful staring is more disciplined and more one-pointed...a concentration...a waiting.   A good illustration of disciplined concentration:  Balance Goddess, Lara Jacobs at a TED talk (click here trouble viewing video below) from  TEDx

There is a quietness of the mind (I talk about this here).   This takes practice like anything else; it takes disciplined concentration and control.  Purposeful staring takes this same disciplined concentration. 
The Art of Staring is critical to the act of creating.  It is allows the space for the work to present itself.  It allows us to wait and perceive what comes next.   

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