Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Days Like This

"Good Day Sunshine" 8x8 oil on linen panel

You can't use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have.
Maya Angelou

Happy September all!  One of my favorite Van Morrison’s songs is “Days Like This.” I couldn’t help but think of this song while painting this sunflower.  Particularly the lines: When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch. And: When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit--Then I must remember there’ll be days like this…

It’s not uncommon to have a frustrating creative slump—it’s part of being an artist. But on the flip side, it sure is a blessing to have a day when everything just seems to go your way in the studio.

The light in the studio is perfection. There’s no noisy neighbor mowing.  The oil paint is just right—not too thick, not too thin. You don't need to correct your drawing.  You mix that strange violet in the very first try.  Ahh, you’re in the ZONE…

There’s only one tiny problem with the ZONE. It never seems to last as long as we’d like. Why can’t every painting day be like this? What’s the secret? The answer is likely different for all of us since the ZONE is so personal. But, in general, I think of the ZONE as a numbers game--You can’t win if you don’t play. The more I “train” as a painter, for example, the more likely I’ll find myself in this sweet spot of creative energy.

Also, I think we are more in control of our creative environment than we think we are. I’ve read successful athletes employ a variety of techniques to help keep them sharp. One should be pretty easy for all us painters and that’s visualization—What does your perfect painting day look like?

Another is taking proactive steps to control any behaviors that may keep you outside of the ZONE. Such as negative thinking, fear, anxiety, etc.  Thankfully, I’m at the stage in my art career where I don’t have much fear, but I do tend to juggle many projects. I like to remind myself I’m not alone trying to balance my creative life. Just Google “Art and Fear” and you’ll find dozens of books, articles, etc.on the topic.

Finally, there’s a reason the Nike slogan Just do it is so powerful. It works. When it comes to finding your ZONE I think it’s better to be doing rather than thinking about doing. And I promise the more you do the more you’ll have days like this.


  1. Nice Van Morrison song, great quote by Maya Angelou, and a wonderful painting. Thanks for the post--it's helpful and inspiring. Found your blog while searching for other things, but it was a nice find. - Phil, artist in Sellersburg IN.

  2. Thanks so much Paul your nice comment on my post. It's one that means a lot to me. Cheers and happy painting!