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Strategic Patience by Robert Genn

Strategic Patience
by Robert Genn

"Strategic patience" is popular jargon these days. It's the strategy of letting time take care of at least part of the process. It precludes running off willy-nilly in a knee-jerk reaction--a reaction that often does more harm than good. Artists should at least consider the system.


Half-finished paintings left deserted and grumbling in studio corners are often busy mending themselves. Pulled into the light, they re-boot the artist's neural pathways. Solutions are often clearer, easier and less painful than originally thought. "All things come round to him who will but wait." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)


You might imagine yourself as a big corporation. Big corporations regularly stop for bouts of strategic planning where they ask themselves questions like, "What do we do?" "For whom do we do it?" and "How do we excel?" These inquiries often result in better plans and future successes.


Artists need to pause and ask, "What am I doing?" "Who am I doing it for?" "What am I good at?" and "What do I need to work on?"


As you work on your art, you need to be thinking ahead. In other words, you take workmanlike actions that are setups for what is to come later. As you delay the gratification of the fun parts, patience is required. You may also need to wait to see what your work suggests. Just as in a game of chess, early minor moves prepare the way for later major ones. This is perhaps a more deliberate way of working than you might be used to--particularly if you're a spontaneous, intuitive painter who works fast in the hope that things will work out. "Hope," said Brian Tracy, "is not a strategy."


Looking around among my limited number of acquaintances, I feel many artists need to shuck off the popular romance of inspiration and acting on the spur of the moment. They need, among other things, strategic patience toward making better decisions. The result will be higher quality work.


Best regards,




PS: "Many of our failures in life and art come about because of the lack of strategy. This is the facility which is needed to produce better than average results." (P. Papadopoulos)


Esoterica: Strategic patience also applies to the business side of art. Getting work out of the studio and into galleries is basic to our business. What puzzles me is how some artists expect instant action from their dealers. I knew one guy who, as a young man, routinely sent a painting to a dealer and waited until it was sold before starting another. This is an example of the wrong kind of patience. When his paintings began to take a year to sell he had already forgotten how to paint. Artists need to think of galleries as places to store their productivity. When you do this, you'll find yourself simply wallowing in joyous creativity. Get a million dollars worth of strategically placed art in storage, and you can go where you want and do what you like. This is a strategy you can eat.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his artistic insights, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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