It happens to us all! Sometimes I just want to put 'everyday life' on the back burner and spend every minute of every day in the studio pursuing my latest creative notion. I confess to the occasional daydream about being one of those artists, so immersed in their work that they live, sleep and eat in their studio to reduce distraction from the outside world. The reality is, I am dreaming if I think that's ever going to be possible! When our creative time gets chopped up into tiny micro-bursts of availability it can seem almost impossible to attain that creative flow state where the white noise from the outside world falls reduces to a distant murmur, leaving you in an almost spiritual quiet free space where your creative train of thought is undisturbed, and good creative decisions flow naturally and in a positive way that enables you to make genuine progress with your work. But what to do when you find yourself in a situation where that blissful oneness with your work seems unattainable? I'm quite stubborn (in a good way I hope) so rather than succumb to frustration and disappointment, I accept that creative flow manifests itself in different ways, sometimes it's a torrent and sometimes it's a trickle. Charting a course through these unpredictable waters helps me maintain a creative mindset and allows me to still bob along in the right direction, so I am still able to feel a sense of forward momentum. Reduce | Research | Remember I physically reduce the size of the creative challenge I set for myself. I know from experience that trying to tackle a 2 m square canvas in 20 minute increments over the course of several weeks will either drive me mad or and leave me making hasty decisions that never really come together in a cohesive way. The painting will never truly 'work' and the story never really emerges. I find working small, in my sketchbook, at times like these is the way to go as pressure and expectation to produce a painting just seem to melt away. I use this time to undertake little creative research projects that don't require a huge amount of commitment and that are often nothing more than exploratory. I might play around with different printing techniques, explore new colour combinations, make collage papers or expressive books. Sometimes, simply spending time with an art book is enough!
I try to remember that the world of art is so much bigger than just what happens in my studio. There's always much to learn that can enrich and inform the art maker's journey. I find that simply exploring other facets of the art world, and consciously thinking about art, even if I can't spend hours making it, keeps me in a creative mindset and more ready to respond to that flow state when the time comes again. And before you know it the distractions have disappeared, the white noise has reduced and creative flow is back with full force and I find I'm feeling re-energised and ready to go!
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