I woke up in a euphoric state this morning! I’m fairly certain nothing special happened while I was sleeping…it must have been yesterday’s day of art making.
This morning started with a bowl of cereal and a positive feeling like no other. Some Cheerios and almond milk did the trick. Maybe the fact that spring is underway. I could just make out birds as they begin to celebrate the decline of winter. Perhaps the still cold, wintery air was a fraction cleaner. I had my normal amount of sleep last night ( about 7 ½ hours) but I feel so good today! Why?
My Day of Art
Yesterday I reserved my entire day for art making. I created a plan, and got immersed in my artistic endeavors for an entire day with absolutely no distractions! Even my wife had plans to be out of the house all day until bedtime. This was to be no regular day. It was a day in which I had drawn up plans for what needed to be done. I had an artistic to do list that was completely achievable but would require an entire day’s work to accomplish.
I’m an oil painter so my process of creating artworks have a rather lengthy process. The process involves conceiving paintings, setting up still lifes, working out drawings, preparing canvases, painting, varnishing paintings and framing. Come to think of it…man I work hard at my art!
Psyching Myself Up
Yesterday was perfect. The evening before, I cleaned up my studio space and created an outline of all the things I would try to get to. I made the list extra long, just-in-case and made a promise to myself not to worry if I didn’t accomplish all of the artistic tasks on the list. In fact, I purposefully made the list slightly long so I knew there was no way to accomplish it all. I didn’t want any non-artistic idle time on my hands.
The Art Studio
I was in my creative space transferring a drawing to canvas by 8 am. Throughout the day I ended up stretching 3 canvases, composing a new drawing and completing the under-paintings for 2 paintings! Most of the day was spent in silence. I don’t mind silence and have a hard time contemplating why people always need “background noise”.
Silence is not intimidating at all, just a simple reminder to live absolutely in the moment and give my current task perfect, unwavering attention.
I worked on my artwork all day until 10pm last night. I took two breaks. One was to meet a friend for lunch and to walk Henry (our dog). This break lasted just under 2 hours because Henry and I enjoyed a 2 mile walk. My second break from art-making was a 15 minute dinner break. Honestly I couldn’t wait to get back to my paintings! It’s all I thought about during my reheated vegetarian chili my wife cooked the night before. It was delicious by the way!
Art Is Work
Don’t get me wrong. I was on no vacation yesterday. I worked my tail off. After looking at the clock I now realize I worked on artwork for 12 solid hours. I could have gone even longer but I had to get up early the next day so I really had to make myself quit at 10 pm and force myself to go to bed.
If I was working really hard and committed to and extremely long work day, why the heck did I feel so great today? I suspect it has a lot to do with achieving a state of flow as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it.
Sometimes we refer to it as “being in the zone”. Zones or Flow? Man I was there yesterday and rode that wave all day long. Mihaly is a psychologist know for his lifelong study of creativity. While his name is nearly impossible to spell his advice seems clear: You can live a happy life though your daily immersion in something creative.
Creation vs. Consumption
I’m totally with you Mihaly. I have come to find out that I am definitely happier creating things as opposed to consuming other’s creations. I have found this to be true in all aspects of life with exception to food 😉 Although I don’t have the burning desire to get creative in the kitchen all the time it is something I’m certainly not opposed to.
My preference to create became evident as a child. I choose playing sports over watching them and often preferred building with my Legos over watching television. Now if I can only turn my creations into a healthy salary I think I will have found the secret door to my life’s own paradise! Right now I do earn a fairly good chunk of change through my artistic endeavors but it’s not quite enough to quit my day job.
Would you trade in your day job for a chance to work full-time as an artist even though you may have to work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week at it? After waking up this morning with a clean slate and a rejuvenated spirit I’m tempted to say “yes”.
What do you think?