Blog Archives

Q: Do you lose yourself in your work?

Barbara at work

Barbara at work

A:  Of course!  When I am having a productive day in the studio, I am completely present and focused, fully immersed in solving technical problems and trying to improve the painting on my easel.  I barely notice the time and have to remind myself to take a break or stop for lunch.  Nothing else exists except the painting and my relationship with it.  The rest of life completely falls away from my consciousness.

I believe most artists regularly experience this feeling of ‘flow.’  It is a state of being that is inherent and necessary to creative work of all kinds.

Comments are welcome! 

Pearls from artists* # 103

Quemado, NM

Quemado, NM

* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

There are times when the art-maker’s solitude feels mildly pleasant, or deeply pleasurable, or even blissful.  Many people refer to Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow” as their experience of art-making – that state of being in which one is focused and concentrated, removed from time, energized, and not lonely at all.  But flow happens most readily when the task is not too frustrating, and when the obstacles feel manageable.  I feel flow more readily when the writing is going well than when I’m trying to wrangle with some thorny bit of it.  Then I feel unflow and, sometimes, too alone with the labor and very glad to have fond people close at hand in my life and in my memory.

Janna Malamud Smith in An Absorbing Errand:  How Artists and Craftsmen Make Their Way to Mastery

Comments are welcome!      

 

Pearls from artists* # 38

Morning sun at the studio

Morning sun at the studio

* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

It’s one thing to be intelligent and it’s another to enjoy thinking, to relish the time spent alone with one’s thoughts, to happily muse, imagine, and analyze.  Artists, who are introspective by nature, typically enjoy spending time in this fashion and may even prefer solitude to the company of others.  Able to work by themselves, artists are often lost in a state of dreamy thoughtfulness of the sort described by the painter Hans Hofmann when he wrote, ” The first red spot on a white canvas may at once suggest to me the meaning of ‘morning redness,’ and from there I dream further with my color.”  Artists are not introspective, thoughtful, lost in time and space because they wish to ignore the world.  They’re introspective because out of that attitude artistic answers flow.

Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts

Comments are welcome! 

Pearls from artists* # 7

Barbara's studio

Barbara’s studio

* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

It’s painful to think of the number of paintings that don’t work, not only my own, but also what I see in galleries and museums.  Such failures may be adequately painted but they don’t sing.  They left the studio but they aren’t happy about it.  It’s simple and inevitable:  there’s work we artists do that doesn’t come together.  And for each of us there’s only one solution to this problem.  You just continue to make paintings, and you make more paintings, and then for no particular reason all of a sudden you start to click and all the pieces that you’ve been working with, the direction you’ve been perceiving “as if through a glass darkly” is now open and clear, in all its glory.  We paint and everything falls into place.  That expression of “being in the zone” expresses the experience perfectly.  There is a momentum you’ve built up which was essential to this work.  If you had been waiting for inspiration, waiting for that flow to begin, it would have caught you too flat-footed to notice.  It arrived out of the readiness that all the previous work created in you.  Regardless of how sluggish that process may have seemed at the time, things were lining up in preparation, ideas were formulating.

Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity: 16 Principles to Deepen Your Artistic Vision

Comments are welcome.