I used to look at my bedroom ceiling and mentally measure the uneven spaces between the dark wood beams that slanted upwards to 15' on one side. I'd contemplate the texture of the wood grain in each beam and the diseased white paint between each. It was a humid disaster in the Glen, so Dad covered the paint with acoustic ceiling tiles. Then I contemplated the textures of the ceiling tiles instead.
I was bed-ridden more than once as a kid, and we didn't have TV when I was really young. That didn't leave much more to do than study ceiling tiles and beams. I listened to my heart beat and my breath go in and out, then decided to see how few breaths and heart beats I really needed. Thdump, thdump became baa... dumm. Baa... dumm. In ever widening spaces between each. I think I accidentally discovered Yogic methods of meditation and healing.
Mom likes to say that boredom is good for kids. It forces them to amuse themselves, even to the exquisite boredom of slowing down heartbeats. I counted the dimples in the ceiling tiles and learned to count even through my dreams, waking up and finding the time on the clock with radioactive numbers was exactly what I expected it to be.
Sometimes I miss that kind of boredom. Not in a way of actually wanting to be that bored again, but missing the control I had over myself. It's harder for me now to pay attention to the times when I need to slow down the pattern of my breathing, and I can't slow my heart like I did back then. As we get older, it seems more and more like life happens to us instead of creating it as we go along.
When we learn something for the first time, we don't know that we learned to do something hard or impossible. When we're older, someone has already told us that you can't do that kind of thing so we probably won't try, or we give up too easily because we don't expect it to work anyway. Or we have already figured out that there's absolutely no value in counting dimples in ceiling tiles.
Sometimes I think art is the same kind of thing. Exquisite boredom and focus in a world of possibilities and mysteries. For me, the joy of art is the process, and sometimes I'm happy to have something pleasant to hang on a wall afterwards. People who buy art are buying an experience.
I often make patterns when I'm stressed. It's more useful than examining ceilings, plus I end up with patterns to put in the backgrounds of other things. I had a job that actually paid me for doing that kind of thing too. Some of my old clients still carry my designs. I swear I should've gotten royalties for this stuff. I'm only taking credit for the good designs on this site, and I still bemoan this company's product shots.
If you're interested in the production side of things, I created the page of patterns for Williams & Bennett to show how the patterns of a 5-high tower of gift boxes would look in either red or green backgrounds and with metallic gold ink.