February 8, 2015

The Practice of Attention

My work as a writer is to pay attention .... to what is beside, inside, beyond .... inside an image, an object, or a place. I want to capture what wells up at different times as joy or as grief or as both.  "No ideas except in things," said William Carlos Williams.

Artistic practice helps sharpen the skills of observation. But it is through observation and practice that something else emerges. An artist must find someway to leave behind the self, and I think this is done by the act of deep attention. "Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity," said Simone Weil.

"The worst thing you can think about when you're working is yourself," said artist Agnes Martin. She believed it was best to achieve an emptiness and to avoid "ideas."  She also said, "My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind."

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