Not watching

We returned from the visit to my mother this week, and though I was sad to go, I was very happy to get back in the studio.

I focused on the works on canvas and this is the first one I feel is really done.


Of course, these are backgrounds, so it’s really just this phase that is done. Next I will start placing these silhouettes.


But many of these are still in progress.

This next one is the largest of the group and it is mostly done, but if you block the top middle section with your hand, you’ll see how the rest of the piece functions and flows. So next week I’ll see if I can get that top part to play more nicely with the other areas.


Then this one just needs its color to get a bit less jarring. If you look at the bottom right quadrant, you’ll see what I’m shooting for: vibrant but not shocking.


And then with this in the upper left I was testing out having a more limited palette, with no blue and just pinks, oranges, yellows, and reds, but I don’t like it, so the blue is going to come back.


So I was working on these and four or five others all week, feeling good, clicking along, and then it felt like all of a sudden I got off balance, full of doubt.

I took a break to get some tea and immediately realized what was going on: All week I had been working in silence, but that day I decided to leave PBS on in the background, with the Jazz documentary, because I am enjoying rewatching it and I somehow thought I could kind of listen and work at the same time. Sigh.

I don’t know why it’s so slippery and hard to remember, but if you want quality in any area of life, it takes your focused attention. Not your “while I’m watching something else” attention. This is true when it comes to relationships, to food…and definitely to creating art. It seems to be one of our great contemporary challenges, building this muscle, the one that keeps us focused.

So this week, here’s to not watching something else. I’ll be trying my best to remember.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

A. David Griffinreply
April 9, 2016 at 1:44 am

Your final comments are spot on! I was just saying to someone yesterday that as I am launching a major ministry project I am beginning to insulate myself from distractions and narrow my field of focus to be laser-like upon my objective. It doesn’t occur too often, but when it does I’ve learned to say “no thank you” to invitations to participate in more things that are not directly linked to that primary goal. Yes, cutting out the background noise is crucial to achieving the best outcomes to our missions.

April 9, 2016 at 6:22 pm
– In reply to: A. David Griffin

Thanks so much! It still often surprises me what a difference that focus can make…to both my results and my mood/motivation. Best wishes on your project!

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