Tuesday, March 15, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: Judy Adamson -- "Go with the Flow" Continued. . .

Get all of your thinking out of the way before you start. (Continued)

Before I give you a few suggestions as to how you can get into ‘flow’, switching off your mind, so that you make way for ‘something else’ to take over, I must tell you that you will probably need to do some thinking about the practicalities of your painting in advance, so that once you get started, there’s no more need to think about what you’re doing. I nearly always paint from photographs, and I do think about how much to crop and edit them.

Hone your practical skills, such as drawing or colour mixing so that they become automatic, ready to use once you are in a ‘state of flow’. Celebrated performers in all fields, top athletes who regularly experience ‘flow’ or ‘being in the zone’ may appear to perform effortlessly but they will have previously put in many hours of practice of their basic skills. Your skills are the tools you will need to carry out your work of art, and you don’t want to have to think about them while you’re working!

I find that working in soft pastels is ideal as there’s no colour-mixing or brush-washing to interrupt the flow, but I need to be confident in my ability to draw and that has come with practice.

It’s important not to have a preconceived idea of how your painting will turn out. Enjoy the excitement of letting go of the controls and allowing the painting to guide you towards its destination! If you begin to sense that things are getting in a muddle, just keep going. Worrying will just switch on your ‘left-brain’, which is quite unnecessary as you can rest assured that your ‘right-brain’ will know the way through and out of your difficulties.

So, how can we switch off our limiting, judgemental minds and confidently allow our Inner Artist to take over, in the way that a small child approaches drawing and painting?

One thing that doesn’t work is to decide to stop thinking - our minds are more persistent and clever than that. So it’s generally best to give your mind something else to occupy it!

Here are the three ways that help me: while I am working I am also:

• Listening to music – Rachmaninov and other ‘Romantic composers work well for me.

• ‘Watching’ television – or rather ‘half-watching’.

• Talking to a friend on the phone! On several occasions a friend has called me while I was drawing or painting and by the end of the conversation I’d somehow solved problems that were arising in my painting, without giving them a moment’s thought!

You will probably find some other ways to switch from your logical, reasoning brain to your intuitive one and maybe you’d like to share them here?

Finally, a couple of words of warning!

Everything can seem effortless when you’re ‘in flow’ but expect to be pleasantly exhausted afterwards! And you’ll probably find it better to work alone – I was told by fellow artists in a class that I pace about and sigh and huff and puff very noisily when I’m painting, none of which I was aware of!

Good luck – and be prepared to be astonished at what you can produce!