Creating your Unique Studio Practice
Establishing a nourishing space for the Creative Soul
Studio practice is all about turning up, staying focused and enjoying your creative process. A big challenge of many artists is distraction and procrastination – so setting up an enjoyable and encouraging place to work is key. Sometimes we cannot even get into that studio and here I would say it’s all about disregarding yourself – sounds negative but what I mean is ignoring the part of yourself that is out to trip you up or distract you. Being distracted and staying in a cycle of procrastination is disempowering and simply a behavioural HABIT. As artists we need to choose to not listen to the excuses or habitual distractions that occupy our minds at times (for some – a lot of the time) – and just Do it. Do it. Do it! Just show up at the drawing board.
Whether you have a tiny space or the possibility of creating a large studio, whether it’s a small space at home, or whether it’s a corner of the garage. Just turn up and create a space that is YOUR creative space whether the dining table, the kitchen bench, the garage cleaned out with a new skylight, or whether you’re selling and/or can afford a separate studio space in a warehouse or shop – it’s all about establishing a conducive space where you are quiet enough to create and where you enjoy creating so that you simply SHOW UP. By showing up in the studio you will ultimately step up and start to create.
Creating a Sacred Space
Your studio sets you up for your creative practice. It’s the foundation. Its also a part of your unique expression and a place that must be conducive and supportive to safely open yourself to the Creative energy. It therefore needs to be a nurturing place that you love to return to and work in. So creating a sacred and joyous space is a great. You need to eliminate any clutter or distractions. You can keep it free from dust, clutter, dirty cups and any garbage. Make sure its zen just like a blank canvas – then you’ll gain more clarity there and feel generally more focused. Get your tools organised, your paints in one place, your brushes or materials that you use all the time easily accessible and then off you go!
Your studio space needs to be quiet and your time in it uninterrupted. It’s best to tell family and friends that you’ll be unavailable in your studio working time. Let them know the hours that you’ll be there and ask them to respect that you’ll be in their quietly creating. Turn off your phone – maybe put it on flight mode so you can’t receive calls while you’re working. You could have a message that says you will check emails and phone messages and aim to get back to them at the end of the day. My warehouse studio space happens to also be my show room gallery so I do get people dropping by – but it’s part of being a successful selling artist – for which I’m very grateful – so I don’t complain – however I do have to say ‘no’ to a lot of other things that are offered to me. I don’t like that sometimes but I ask myself what would I prefer: and my answer is always: I’d rather be painting and selling my artwork than anything else.
I highly recommend meditating before your practice. I meditate for a long period early each morning and then a quick meditation before studio practice. It’s a great of grounding myself, centering and letting go of the morning’s hustle and bustle. It’s good to have a meditation ASANA (cushion used especially for sitting in meditation) somewhere in the studio space if you can. And if there’s room you can set up a PUJA or alter that’s dedicated to meditation, offering and giving thanks, journaling and communing with Nature or the Higher Creative Self or Consciousness. This can be in a quiet corner or area – simply a special cushion or chair, a vase of flowers, a print or photos of someone or something inspiring or something you love. It could even be an image of you painting, walking in the sunshine in nature, or sitting at the writing desk.
Play your favourite music – whatever it is that ignites your passion and revitalises your energy. Play it. If you need quiet then don’t. I love music. I share my warehouse with other artists so I usually wear airpods. You can also listen to podcasts or whatever floats your boat – however – I think you can hear your inner voice guiding you where and what to do next, more clearly, if you play something that doesn’t distract you too much from the ‘flow state’.
Set your Sankalpa
Sankalpa means an intention formed by the heart and mind.
Write an intention to guide you in the studio. If negative emotions are present while creating, the whole process will be affected. You will not create anything you love when you are feeling upset, distracted, doubting or angry. If you know you have an unresolved issue and taken it in with you to the studio – drop it off at the front door. Then sit for 10 mins and afterwards use your sankalpa as a prayer to infuse into your creative process while painting, singing, playing, writing or whatever it is that you want to do. Sounds like a lot of time however if you spend 10-20 minutes making sure you are creating from an open and peaceful state of intention – you will get so much more done.
Before you begin or start back again if you’ve taken a lengthy break, its a good idea to take 5 deep breaths to ground and center yourself. You may like to do a middle of the day meditation to let go of any thoughts that are on your mind, to-do lists, constraints or emotions. Conscious breathing helps align you in the present as you begin to create again. It’s quick and easy and it works!
Awakening the Senses
Creating is a sensory experience. No matter what were creating – painting, drawing, playing guitar or cooking – we can be mindful to awaken all five senses in the process. Simply pause to notice how the paintbrush feels in your hand before you use it, the sound of the oil paint oozing from the tube, what the paint smells like as you slowly move it around the canvas, and how the colors merge together to create the perfect new fresh colour combinations. Get into the flow. Put music on. You can dance if you feel the urge and feel the body guiding you around the canvas. I love doing this – it really ignites the creative energy and gets the chi flowing.
A creative practice can also be meditative. It’s about being in the present – this is where we receive the creative ideas and gifts. This is true yoga. It’s also called the ‘flow state’. To get into this state we meditate first. Sometimes however for a lot of people things arise that might stop the flow. This could be emotions, thoughts, anxiety, fear, or inner criticism. Should negative emotions arise, leave the studio, desk or situation and take a pause from your process. Allow the emotions to dissolve before returning with ease and attitude of surrender and enjoyment. You could go for a walk – walks are always a great way to walk through emotions and shift your inner state. You could sit and do some deep breathing work or try mantra repetition to help bring the mind back to that openness of ‘flow state’. Mantras are a great way to help focus the mind. Om Namah Shivaya is the mantra I use to help quiet my mind. Or you could use your sankalpa as a tool for practicing contentment and connection in each moment. The more you meditate the more you will become aware of when you are not in the present moment – so keep meditating each day and when you’re working keep drawing the mind back to the present moment. This is key to creativity.
We all have so much to be grateful for especially those of us who are creatives. What a joy and blessing it is to be a creative and a Human Being who sees the beauty and magic in everything. How amazing is it to be able to create what we visualise? How lucky are we to be able to make a living from what we love to create? No matter what we have – remaining grateful is the key to success. It’s the key to staying open to receiving inspiration. It’s the key to staying motivated. It’s the only way to be truly happy and free to create. I also make sure that the creative thief COMPARISON, the thief of all joy, is not entering my mind. Comparing yourself to others is THE biggest waste of time there is. And time is everything for creative people. So stay centered on your sankalpa or intention. Stay true to what is your WHY. Stay on purpose. Remain open and make sure you have fun in your studio space and use your time well.
The more you love what you do, enjoy the creative process, and are passionate and playful about your art making – the more you will be excited to get back into the studio. So stay happy, create like no one is watching you, be playful and connected to your inner child and you will have the best studio practice around.!