Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guest Blogger: Judy Adamson -- "It's all about Flow"

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of
no-mind, from inner stillness.” Eckhart Tolle

Carol kindly asked me to write about something I’m passionate about, and since I’ve been in touch with so many artists through the Internet over the past year, I’ve come to realize that one of the things I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to experience, without even knowing it, is painting from ‘a place of no-mind’, of experiencing ‘flow’. And it’s no exaggeration to say that it’s such an ecstatic feeling that I’d like to try to give others some pointers towards experiencing it for themselves.

“Only when he no longer knows what he’s doing does the painter do good things” Degas

I first realized that the way I paint is different from other artists when I was asked by local art organizations to give talks, with demonstrations, of my pastel painting ‘technique’ and had to refuse. Once I start blocking in the colour on the paper, I am totally unaware of what I’m doing, so how could I possibly demonstrate it to others? And in any case, I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t enter into ‘flow’ in the presence of other people! By its very nature, it’s not something that can be demonstrated!

There’s a wonderful description of ‘flow’ in Daniel Goleman’s book, ‘Emotional Intelligence’, which is well worth reading. But in essence, all it boils down to is letting go of ‘thinking’, of making conscious decisions about what we’re doing and, instead, allowing ourselves to be guided by something more intuitive than our minds.

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. You can’t try to do a thing. You must simply do things.” Ray Bradbury.

Perhaps you are thinking ‘Easier said than done!’ and that’s how I would probably have reacted if someone had suggested this to me before I wandered (temporarily!) into this almost ‘altered state of consciousness’ myself! It all began with me working on a piece late one night whilst watching television, then coming back to it the following morning and being astounded at what I had done!

Nowadays that’s quite a ‘normal’ experience for me; I’ll look at a painting I did a few years back and wonder how on earth I caught the light on the tree trunk, almost questioning whether I was in fact the one who had done it – or was it those same Elves who came in overnight and did the Shoemaker’s work for him?

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

When I work, I work very fast; but preparing to work can take any length of time” Cy Twombly

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.

Join us next week to continue Judy's blog on the process of "thinking" things through before the big "flow."