Okay, I’m ready to try again.
My intention is to start a series of posts addressing the questions people ask me about my work. Some of you may recall that my patience was tested the other day when I wrote my first post in this series — about patience! This time I’m writing offline and saving every few minutes. I’m determined not to repeat the experience!
When people look at my artwork, and particularly after they view the film about my process, they invariably comment on patience. Either they exclaim, “I could never do what you do! I don’t have the patience!” Or they admiringly ask, “Where do you get such amazing patience? It must be your Buddhst practice.”
I suppose it’s natural that they have this reaction, looking at the intricacy of the images which take months to complete…
Not seeing the stitches and thinking they’re smaller than they really are…
When they hear that I wrap horsehair with silk thread — by hand! — they are convinced I must have supernatural levels of tolerance.
The truth is very different.
I’ve thought about this a lot — mostly because it surprised me to be thought patient.
People who know me… well, let’s just say that they generally have a different impression. I would love to be an infinitely patient person, but I often struggle with my impatience, my resistance to how things are (almost always different from how I think they should be). I often don’t take well to being inconvenienced, I’m sorry to say. And as for my Buddhist practice… well, it’s rather undisciplined.
But with my work… I simply enjoy my work.
Realizing this, I reflected on when patience really comes into play. It has nothing to do with small stitches or long work hours or months to completion. It has to do with resistance… or dislike. Annoyance or intolerance. We don’t need to be patient with what we like — or with what we don’t even notice, for that matter!
I enjoy the process of creating a silk thangka. I revel in the fabrics, I care for each stitch. Sure, I get impatient when the thread tangles and frustrated when I have to re-do a piece. Just as anyone does when they break a glass or burn some toast.
But generally, I’m happy when I’m working. I like seeing the image come together, even in its slow details. I love when the thread wraps smoothly around the horsehair (more about horsehair in my next post in this series). There’s not much I’d rather be doing. So there’s really no call for patience.
What do you do that seems to require patience but is actually transparently pleasurable to you?