When you step up to create you art, there is a state of flow that you ideally seek, which lets you concentrate on the work, excluding all distractions, but in a pleasurable way, so that the work doesn’t feel burdensome. It feels, instead, like an extension of your being into your media.
Obtaining that state of flow can sometimes be difficult. I find that you can do things that aid in obtaining that circumstance:
- Get the temperature right. If that means heating your room or throwing open the windows, or alternatively having the air conditioning running, then get the ambient temperature right. You don’t need the distraction of feeling too hot or too cold. Starving artists in unheated studios, in the winter, must find it very hard to focus on the work.
- Adjust light levels. Too much or too little light can be very distracting. You may need to open the curtains, or close them. Perhaps a little artificial light can help.
- Get the colour of the light right. Sometimes, the colour of the light matters a lot. For painters painting at night, you often need special daylight bulbs, but don’t forget that coloured light (blue, red, green, yellow, etc.) can also help you get into the zone, especially as a musician
- Use aromas. Sometimes, you need to burn some incense, or a scented candle. You might use an aromatic essential oil burner, to fill your space with pleasant, or else astringent, smells. I find Geranium works very well for me, but there are lots of ways to use aromas to immerse you in the work you are doing. Sometimes, just the smell of your materials is all it takes. Some people just love the smell of oil paint, for example.
- Consider the ambient aural environment. If it’s too noisy or too quiet, you’re going to struggle to create. You need sound levels between 45 and 55dB. Music can be an excellent background to some activities, but so can atmospheric recordings of beaches and rainforests, or birdsong might be just the thing for you. You might love the sound of soft rain, or of distant wind. Get the soundscape right and your creative works will benefit.
- Wear something that feels good. The texture of the fabric on your skin and how it hangs on your body can be very important. In a previous age, painters wore kaftans, to give them a feeling of freedom. Your whole body is a sense organ and it requires sensuality.
- Don’t forget to eat. Nothing destroys the flow of a starving artist than actually feeling hungry. Similarly, feeling bloated and overindulged is a distracting feeling too.
- Consider massage. Massaging your tired and aching muscles, prior to, or after a creative working session can provide many benefits beyond merely physiological and mechanical ones. It can relax your mind and put you in touch with your senses.
- Notice your breathing and feel your feet on the floor. Being mindful of your very being can put you in intimate touch with your own creative essence and help you to bring the work into being.
Creativity is essentially an expression of your life as a human being. Treating yourself and your senses to sensations that help you feel calm, centred and focused helps you to remove those niggly-naggly obstacles, which you might not even be fully aware of, that can get in the way of throwing your whole self into the creation of your art. Even the ritual of preparing to create can habituate you to producing great art every day.
Time spent caring for yourself, in small ways, ensuring that your senses are satisfied and stimulated, reflects well in the art that you produce. Feel good and your art will probably be good.
Notice for yourself what preparations and sensual delights produce the best effects for you and make them a part of your daily work routine. Vary them, from time to time, of course, but make sure that you are mentally and physically prepared for the work you are about to do. Above all, make the association of creating your art with something deeply pleasurable and nurturing to your body and soul. That will act as a positive reinforcement of your creative practice.
When you carefully and deliberately prepare to immerse yourself in your creative work, you can improve the quality of what you do, but more importantly, you can greatly improve the experience of creating. It heightens your senses and as an aesthete, having those senses at their peak is very important for the aesthetics of what you are about to create. That, in turn, just improves the quality of your life.
It’s worth doing.