When it comes to painting, I have several "rituals" that have never let me down.
At first I didn't even recognize them as rituals, but the more I thought about it, I realized that I did have a set of practices that helped me in my creativity. You may also. I think it is important to figure out what fills you up and enhances your creative process so that when you hit a dry spell you know where to turn to get that needed jump start...
So, I want to share what works for me:
Sleep is a huge help, and we are talking good quality sleep. Even a nap will work. When I am feeling bogged down or stuck I ask for my dreams to reveal answers to any problems that may be hindering my creative process. Half the time a painting or flashes of paintings will come to mind, and let me know what direction to head next. Sometimes just an inspiring dream will help, like your own private art film.
2. Early Morning Creative Time
Also, for my personal creative rhythm, I know that I like to create early in the morning when I first wake up, before I have talked with anyone, or driven anywhere, or heard any news. The sleep and the dreams are close with me, and help me to tap into my creative unconscious.
I have certain types of music that I create to, for example when I paint I listen to music that is dreamy, introspective, and that resonates with me deeply. I connect to the musicians creativity and that comes out in my art. Music I love to paint to: Brian Eno, Moby, Radiohead, Talking heads, and my all time favorite painting music is Interpol. I listen on headphones and enter into another world....
I know that for me when I am doing yoga a couple of times a week, I am more clear and centered, and in general feel better about everything. The yoga helps me be in touch with my body, and gets me out of my head where I reside most of the time. I am always rewarded by my paintings when I am practicing yoga.
Julia Cameron's popular book the Artist Way has a section on "morning pages." I practiced this exercise for a long time, and I too found it immensely helpful. Somehow, just spilling all the junk that clouds your mind into three pages really helps to tap in to your creativity. It is nice to let go and just write about the mundane clutter such as "how dirty the house is, how you need to return a call, the dog needs to go the vet, whats for dinner blah blah..." stream of consciousness purge.
Just taking a walk around the park, looking at some flowers, going to a creek or a lake, nature is such a creative life force, all the colors, shapes, and smells, it is like a museum that you have access to all the time.
There are days when it is not happening, I can't quite motivate to paint and I need to kick back and receive some inspiration. This the perfect time to watch a movie about an artist or just an inspiring movie that is artfully done. Some of my favorites in this category are: Basquiat, Pollock, and Frida. I also love Jonathon Demme films for this purpose too, Something Wild and the Talking Heads Stop Making Sense are favorites. Stealing Beauty, by Bernardo Bertolucci is another, I love the way the characters in the movie live in the Italian country side as well as the interesting sculptures the main character makes. I love Hal Hartley films too, especially Surviving desire, it is beautiful, and poetic, like watching a stage play. There are so many inspirational films, but this isn't a film column so I must stop...
I just wanted to remind you that there are so many wonderful ways to keep your creative juices flowing. These are just some of the ways I "connect" in order to create.
When you catch yourself in a productive creative cycle- What are you doing? Do you have rituals that keep you going? Take note of these, find patterns, and remember when the well is dry to fill it again... You know where to go for the water...