regarding the 'pebble project'
How a spectator/viewer physically approaches a painting is always interesting, standing far enough back for any image to properly register, but then hopefully drawn in to study the brushwork. I'm so glad you mentioned this. What do you think about when you are actually applying the paint?
One of the problems I had back in Devon, before I decided to go 'back to basics', was 'over-thinking' and 'over-analysing' my work. An artist can, in my experience, think the art work to a death.
I could not turn off the 'inner censor', and it was a major distraction. Thankfully painting and drawing the pebbles changed that destructive thinking pattern.
I love to really look, (and to really see!) and you need to concentrate totally when wanting to really look, and really see. The somewhat awkward process of looking through a magnifying glass, and then at the canvas, backwards and forward, and through the act of painting, discovering more and more detail. There does not seem to be room for any unwanted thoughts while I'm involved in this process.
Sometimes I will think of other things... I will suddenly remember something from long ago...or a dream I had the night before. Sometimes these memories are quite intense.
If the work is not going well, my thoughts might start to drift...and then it's best to take a break.
But mostly, if I'm working well, my thoughts are only about the painting process while I'm painting. The 'analysing' is done when I look at the painting in between the 'painting sessions'.