Obsession + Ritual

It's no secret that when it comes to painting, I'm obsessed.  Recently, I spent two whole weeks thinking waves, painting studies of waves, reading about waves, and generally trying to get my mind to move in more wave-y ways.  I meditated on the ocean, studied the frothy white lace that rides atop seawater, and did a lot of swimming, imagining I was a big rock with waves crashing against me, or that I was a seal, gliding through a stormy sea.  All this in preparation for one painting for an upcoming book.  I realize I'm more than a little crazy, but for me, this is all just part of my process.  When it comes to painting, I'm all in: putting my heart, mind, and spirit in everything I do.  It's exhausting, sure, but I wouldn't have it any other way.


I love getting to really dig into a painting.  I love immersing myself in the colors, the detailed brushwork, the way the water interacts with the pigments.  I think my "immersion method" probably stems from a childhood of having very few friends, being bored to tears in school, and so really throwing myself into my art.  It was a refuge, an escape, a world in which I could create anything I wanted.  I learned to comfort myself with color, to distract myself with detail.  


Recently I've been thinking a lot about my creative process and its rituals.  I've always been fascinated by creative people's rituals: how they get their juices flowing, and how they keep that energy up.

Funnily enough, I feel like I have more structured rituals when it comes to my writing.  When I sit down to write, I'll light a candle (usually something that smells like a winter forest: juniper, spruce, pine, and snow), have a mug of hot tea ready to go, and play classical music (usually Ravel or Debussy).  Sometimes I'll comb through collections of notes or inspirational images relevant to the project (hello, Pinterest!).  Other times, I'll just sit down and start hammering out scenes.   

Painting is much looser (and easier) for me: I put on some sort of interesting music, or maybe a show (I love watching documentaries, especially food-related ones while I work), maybe do some light stretching or take a short walk outside.  Sometimes I'll even wear certain jewelry or perfume to help myself feel more in the creative spirit.


I think these rituals are part Pavlovian cue, part distraction to coax my subconscious or intuitive mind out of hiding.  And as my inspiration is constantly changing, I find that the rituals to unlock said inspiration must change too.  It's a constant journey of exploration, of finding new things that awaken my curiosity and ignite my creative spirit.  Who knows where it will lead next?