These are the drawings of the twenty-ninth week of daily sketching
Since last week, I have resumed working on larger projects. They are mostly oil paintings started a few years ago that were cast aside because of composition or some other unresolved problem. I intend to analyse them one at a time and resolve the problematic issue so that I can complete them. Some I might decide to scrap altogether. I have several of these around.
In order to work on these paintings, I need large chunks of uninterrupted time so that I can get into the flow. For many, flow remains somewhat of a mystery. We know when we experience it, love the way it feels and would like to reproduce the state at will but don’t necessarily know how. Lately, I have managed to get to and stay into flow so I thought I would share some tips that will help you get there:
1- No distractions or as little as possible
Multitasking does not work if you want to do your best work. Some activities are more conducive to flow. Working on an art project, writing, computer programming, researching are all considered “deep work” that will trigger flow. The more deep work you do, the more you’ll experience flow, and the easier it will be to reach that state.
2- Avoid interruptions
Each interruption sets you back 15 minutes. That is the time it takes for your brain to get back into flow. So no, it doesn’t take a few seconds to glance at an e-mail. If you can work creatively for one hour a day uninterrupted, you would become prolific at anything you choose to do. If you are serious about experiencing Flow, pick a part of your day to be completely free of interruptions. If you are at the office, close the door and don’t answer the phone.
3- Work for Long Enough to Get into Flow
You have to persist and be willing to work long enough as it can take 30 minutes, sometimes more to get into flow. When I paint, the first 15-20 minutes are made up of rituals. I make sure all my paints are out, placing brushes in my big mug, pouring solvent in one container, a mix of Liquin fine detail and solvent in another, make sure the painting is well positioned on the easel, put my favourite music on, think back to where I was at the end of the last painting session, decide which part I will work on that day and mix some colours. After another 10-15 minutes of paint application, I get more into it, becoming more lucid and I get lost in the painting. I am in the Flow. The same goes for writing. Incoherent first sentences and paragraphs eventually lead to good writing and full articles if you put in enough time. We have to stick with it.
4- Listen to the Same Music Track on Repeat
This is a tip from Steven Kotler, author and Executive Director at the Flow Research Collective. I have never tried it but it is supposedly an effective technique for getting to and staying into flow. By playing the same music track over and over, the noise around you is being drowned out, and because it’s on repeat you no longer give it any conscious attention. All your concentration can be directed to doing your work.
I obviously do not need to get into Flow to do my daily drawings or small watercolours but I do get into it when I do digital portraits which sometimes take more than 3 hours. This week my drawings are a mix of travel theme and digital portraits, including Mike’s muse whose head structure drawing I posted last week, and my own very first self-portrait and wearing a mask.
I hope to post some of my progress on larger paintings in the next few weeks.
To explore Flow further, read this amazing book: Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly.1990. Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. Harper & Row. New York.
Thank you for reading and stay safe!
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