Shift your state

In last week’s post I spoke about knowing when to let an artwork go. When to accept that there isn’t enough of value to continue investing more time and energy.

This week I want to speak about not giving up, about persevering. Sometimes an artwork still contains potential and you just need to change direction.

Stuck and blocked

This past week I posted a painting on Instagram and shared that I had been a bit stuck with it at a stage. A friend who was struggling with her artwork saw the post and asked me how I became unstuck. And in another post someone asked this question: “How do you get over a creative block?”

These are similar issues. In the former we don’t know how to continue. And in the latter we don’t know how to start (or in the broader sense of ongoing practice, continue.)

The solution is the same. It is not helpful for us to use language that sets up our struggle as an imposing physical obstacle that we have to either physically pull ourselves out of or clamber over. What we actually desire is a shift in our momentary state of being. Feeling stuck. Feeling blocked. These are feelings we can change.

But how do we do that?

Shifting our state of being

Lie on the floor! Seriously, lying on your back on the floor with arms and legs stretched out (savasana pose in yoga) is the ultimate act of surrender. We are acknowledging that we are needing and open to help. And it comes.

I thought about my artwork and what needed to be done. The area I was working on needed to be less detailed so as not to detract from the detailed focal point (which was working). I got up and decided to watch a short video a friend had felt prompted to share with me. It was about an artist who is a 108 years old, and is still creating with passion and energy! She also sometimes gets in there with her fingers! I needed to paint with my fingers!  (See the link below.)

Feeling inspired and with a new plan of action, I continued painting. I had shifted my state of being.

At other times, while lying on the floor, we might realise that we are actually tired and need a break. Or we have low energy and need to do some physical activity. Perhaps we need inspiration. Or someone we trust to give us some feedback. It might also be time to change media, techniques or even subject matter for a while. For instance, if we tend to work very realistically maybe we need to do something that is quick and suggestive.

Change your story. Change your state.

The famous author, Seth Godin, speaks to creative (writers) block in his excellent book, “The practice”. He claims it is a myth and uses the analogy of creative block being a story we tell ourselves.  A story is real and is something we believe. But we can change that story. It’s a changed perception, a changed state of being.

Before I wrote this blog post I wasn’t in a state conducive to creating. Not doing it wasn’t an option. Maybe I would feel like it tomorrow, but that would be too late. So I chose to first do a yoga practice with asana (poses), pranayama (breath work) and mantra (making sound) that stimulates creativity. It worked.

How do you prepare yourself for practice? How do you deal with issues and struggles? What is your story? How do you shift your state of being? I’d love to hear from you.

With reference to my artwork: In both of these paintings I used my fingers. In the boat painting I began with finger painting. And in the flower painting I ended with finger painting.

Video: UNILAD. “Incredible 108-Year-Old Artist”

2 thoughts on “Shift your state

  1. I like how you put this into words.
    When I’m stuck and I don’t have a deadline, I leave the piece for a bit. That could be a few hours, days or even weeks.
    It’s interesting that you mentioned the savasana pose. I don’t know much about yoga, but the floor/ground often helps me shift perspective. I like lying on the floor and looking around the room imagining what it would be like to walk around the room if the ceiling was the floor etc.
    I will try the yoga pose next time. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective from an artist and architect’s point of view. I love how you relate to space and imagine experiencing it differently if it was all turned upside down. Lying on the floor is incredibly grounding and gives us a different view of things. I also sometimes leave a piece for a while and then come back to it. The challenge for me, and how I think about helping others, is when we don’t have time and we need to do something now. It would be interesting for you to try some yoga and notice what effect it might have on you. 😊

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