Do You Have a Creative Routine?

Aglow | © Beth Cole | Oil on Stretched Canvas | 12 x 24

Aglow | © Beth Cole | Oil on Stretched Canvas | 12 x 24

I visited the library a few days ago in search of a landscape painting book by Edgar Payne. I hit a dead end with that book but in perusing the art section I found a couple other books to check out, one of which is all about the rituals of art. It is titled Daily Rituals: How Artists Work edited by Mason Currey. It is an interesting compilation of descriptions of daily routines of well-known artists such as Mozart, Beethoven, Hemingway, Updike, Einstein and the like.

I’m only one-third of the way through but so far….very interesting. I am taken by the dedication to uninterrupted creative time that seems to be a common denominator. Aside from that, there is much variety in the tempo, time of day and circumstances in which these artists thrive. I’m also struck by how many of them did not take care of themselves physically, that is to say there are many with weird food and drink habits ….but also many who held to at least two or three hours of hiking or walking outside as a way to feed the creative mind.

So this idea of working when inspiration strikes sounds beautiful, but from what I gather….doesn’t work. It appears to me that people who successfully create do so with the discipline of a structured routine. One artist said his art practice could be compared to milking a cow….he must create.

I enjoy listening to the Savvy Painter podcast on my drives and one question Antrese always asks is “do you have a ritual or routine to help you get started in the studio?” The answers are all so varied and good.

So I’m curious about you. Do you have a creative routine?

Here’s mine. I try to paint for at least four hours a day, usually from 10:00-3:00 with a break for lunch. To get started, I take my paint palette out of the freezer, crank on the music and put on my apron. I usually have an idea of what I’ll be working on because I try to leave the studio with the next day in mind. I ask God to work through my hands and then I just pick up the brush and get started.

Many times, I do not feel inspired, in fact, most of the time I don’t. But I have found, after my brush starts moving, it isn’t long before I am immersed in what I am doing and concentrating so hard that I lose track of time. That is a great feeling, actually, a marker of sorts that helps me know I am doing what I should be doing.

As I am painting, I consistently step way back from the painting, sometimes taking it outside so I can view it from a distance. This helps me check the harmony and make sure the values and shapes are reading correctly. 

I try to quiet my brushes on the weekend so that my reserves can be built back up and I’m ready to paint again on Monday. I have found this practice to be one of the most important ones….creating is hard work and the body, mind and heart need a break. For me, the time out of the studio is just as important as the hours I spend inside the studio. When I am stuck or really tired, I will sometimes take a break and go for a walk. This really stimulates my mind and helps me feel energized again.

Okay, your turn. Let’s hear it.....comments open and welcome.

With you all the way,

Soli Deo Gloria