|Path Katherine Kean|
watercolor on paper
Time alone in the studio (except for the dog, of course) is an opportunity to relax into a flow of consciousness. To let words and linear thoughts drift away. This state feels freer – nobody is watching – nobody is judging – it’s an anything might happen place to be.
Solitude helps me to get into the creative flow. Like falling asleep – they say that falling asleep takes about 7 minutes - I find it takes a certain period of time without interruption. An interruption means the whole process must start over again. For me settling down to work is preceded by a period of puttering around. I used to view this time as procrastinating, but I’ve learned that it is an essential part of getting to work. I flit about the house fiddling with this and that, putting things away, but gradually thinking less and less about what I’m doing while my mind is pulled toward what I’m going to work on. I end up finally in front of the easel, setting up the palette, mixing a color, these are the final acts of tinkering – I’m already almost oblivious to the world around me and on the way to becoming fully absorbed in interaction with paint and the surface.
Oddly I often find it helpful to have the TV on, tuned to something I don’t feel compelled to pay attention to – usually a talk show. This seems to serve to keep the literal part of my brain occupied; it’s like sending a talkative child off to play, leaving me free to work. .
And getting that time to work, undistracted and focused, requires saying no. Saying no to distractions, interruptions, and disturbances. Email must be ignored, the phone left unanswered – just for the time being.
“The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone." James Baldwin
Robert Genn has a whole page of quotes about solitude and art.