Artists’ “Flow” a Good Habit For All

Photo by Daian Gan on

What is “flow”?  Have you ever started working at 8am and suddenly it’s noon?  If this has happened to you,  then this is the concept of ‘getting into the flow’ or  achieving a state of mind in which everything seems possible and you’re just… rocking it. 

Not everyone feels this way all the time of course. Any number of reasons such as the weather, or the news can cause a person to feel unmotivated or feel stuck like they are in an unending loop of Groundhog Day. When I asked the artists of the Artists Association of Beaumont to chime in on their “flow” and how they muster up motivation to create a fun and productive day, they shared great tips that might motivate you as well. 

Elaine Ford Grandon uses nature to put her in the zone. “It can be a simple walk outside or in a garden when something catches my eye and I completely lose track of time creating images.” A storm blowing in or a change in light can send Elaine with her camera in a happy state of “flow”. 

Keeping a “To Do” list helps Trish McIsaac stay in the “flow” state.  “I tend to get easily distracted so I write a goal for something I wish to achieve that week on my blackboard, then I break it down into smaller, more manageable increments of joy for each day.”

Setting aside time and space can be a challenge in any home. If family commitments are too hectic, you may need to set your alarm and get up before the rest of the family.  Or if you are a night owl, like our artist Bethany Fuller, your creative flow will kick in in the still of the night. “My flow requires being removed from small children. Usually if I stay up late, my creative brain kicks in. I call it my 11:55 brain, like Jekyll and Hyde. But Jekyll is responsible and does things like plan suppers and Hyde is more concerned about how many colors of yarn I have in my stash.”

Some artists use music or white noise while they work. Artist Christie Jedele listens to music or an audiobook to get in the “zone”. Jedele says “It helps me create without overthinking what I am painting. Afterwards, I tend to step back and wait a day before going to my next step.” Artist Dalena McLeod also likes to listen to a podcast or YouTube. “But I am just as happy to work in complete silence and absolutely enjoy it.”  Good music and a cup of coffee are essential to Laurel Aitken

Like the Nike slogan says, Just Do It, some artists like Julie-Ann McKenzie just get right to it. “I begin no matter what I feel, then it just evolves. Some days I see a view or hear of an idea I like to try and then just sit down and paint it. It’s not always what I expect but at least it gives me a fun challenge.”

There are blocks that can prevent getting in the flow. Visual clutter, loneliness, too much social media, being unmotivated or being unprepared can create such blocks. Creating joyful moments with family or friends can help to unblock the flow.  Artist Laurel Aitken says “Scheduling art time with family or friends gets me into my art room and gets me motivated. If I’m on my own, I browse my photos for something that grabs my attention and motivates me to get painting.” Artist Betty Schriver builds her motivation by seeking out an engaging challenge and getting excited about the potential. “That means first experiencing the location or subject matter so that the memory is a joyful one in my mind.” She prevents any blocks to her “flow” by having all her supplies ready and within reach. 

Our artists are as diverse as their methods of getting in the “flow”.  Any or all of these healthy habits are perfect not just for artists but for anyone wanting to get out of a rut and into doing whatever it is you wish.  Getting into the “flow” can turn a “meh” kind of day into a magical kind of day. As James Clear says in his book How to Build Good Habits, “Just start. Do a little and see what happens.”

To find out more about our artists, check us out on Facebook @ArtistsAssociationofBeaumont

Written by Trish McIsaac for the Artists’ Association of Beaumont

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