What, exactly, does the term 'flow state' mean? Why is it important for artists and creatives to experience it on a more consistent basis? How can I get into 'flow state' as I'm working on my art?
We experience 'flow state' or 'creative flow' when we're fully immersed in a task, whether it be painting, drawing, sculpting, writing, or playing music.
Our minds and bodies seem to be working in unison when we're experiencing a state of flow.
Unsurprisingly, it leads to our best art...without us even trying too hard.
There are no negative voices coming from inside us, critiquing our every move.
Distractions seem to be non-existent.
Most of all, we're enjoying what we're doing so much, that time seems to fly by, or it seems to be suspended altogether.
'Flow state' is a term that's mostly used in the creative world, but it's important to know that someone can experience this while doing many different activities.
We can feel it when we're cooking, cleaning, driving, doing some type of task in our day job...
Athletes are also known to experience it when their playing their sport.
However, the arts are incredibly mind and body intensive, and it can be difficult to get back into flow after it's lost.
Not to mention, today's fast-paced/distraction-filled world seems to be the antithesis of the focus and time required to do creative work.
For many of us, it can seem nearly impossible to get into flow state.
But it's important to experience it because it's when we create our best work and when we enjoy ourselves most.
This leads to greater consistency and more growth over time.
In the video below, I tell you how to do this!
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How to experience a state of flow more consistently as an artist
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically before sitting down to draw or paint
When you're feeling relaxed and ready to focus, it'll not only show in your work, but you'll enjoy the art-making process much more.
Instead of jumping straight into drawing or painting when you're stressed out and have lots of things on your mind, take 5-10 minutes to prepare your working area so that's inspiring and comfortable, as well as to get into the right headspace.
Explore breath work, taking a walk outside, meditation, journaling, stretching, dancing or simply listening to music.
Find a little pre art-making ritual that works for you and do it.
2. Avoid multitasking and distractions
In today's world, it feels like there are 50 things calling our attention, all at once, 24/7.
However, I assure you that, outside of work and responsibilities we have with our loved ones, nothing is really that important.
Working on your personal goals and making time for what fulfills you is more important than wasting your most valuable resource (time), scrolling on social media, watching alarming news, and binge-watching the latest t.v. shows.
It's essential to establish the days and times that you'll be devoting to your art practice, and to let your loved ones know when you'll be working.
Schedule it in your calendar/weekly agenda, just like any other appointment or important task you need to get done.
During these times, silence your phone, close your email and other unnecessary tabs/windows on your electronic devices, and only use the media you need for your art creation.
It may seem impossible at first but, the more you practice this, the easier it becomes.
3. Make sure you're working within the Goldilocks Zone
I talk about the Goldilocks Zone in this video.
In order to experience this beautiful state of flow, it's essential to pick projects (or studies) with your current skill level in mind.
This is because you need to be able to go in with a certain level of confidence in order to "let go".
If everything is completely new to you, and the piece on hand requires methods, techniques and/or information that you've never practiced or learned before, it's going to be impossible for you to do this.
The process on hand needs to be familiar enough for you to get to a certain point relatively easily, but just challenging enough to feel like you're pushing yourself a tad past your comfort zone.
Remember that not everything you create has to be a masterpiece or even "good".
As artists, it's not only healthy, but important, to give ourselves permission to experiment and even fail.
Practice creating art for the process and discovery it brings, not for the sole purpose of creating a perfect product.
Stop overthinking, allow yourself to play and let the chips fall where they may.
Check out my FREE Patreon-exclusive tutorial and class samples here!
*Articles on Creative Flow:
How to get into Creative Flow State by Jake McNeill
Traits of Flow According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi by Mike Oppland
Creative Flow as a Unique Cognitive Process by Charlotte L. Doyle
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