Transitioning from being in the creative zone to ordinary daily activities can be a tender, even challenging, time. For me, this is especially true when I’m deep in a contemplative or highly energetic painting or page.
Creative flow is a different state of consciousness than where we normally function from – and in that lies both its beauty and medicine.
I am a watery soul who is often told how very grounding my energy is. Though this is not untrue, it always baffles me a little when I hear it.
But when I think about it, my energy is grounding because I ground all day long – out of a sort of individual necessity. With thought, gesture and action, I reach for the tangible, earthy and material, to tether my creative spirit to ritual, to do what needs to be done and be where I need to be.
I am also an immersive creative by nature. Once I tap into a certain creative-energy place inside myself, I could linger there until the cycle of expression is complete. How wonderful it is when I can, occasionally, take that time to get lost in those other realms for hours or days – but this is rarely practical. And sometimes, it is not even always the most insightful or helpful way to create or creatively grow. It is certainly not the only way to do so.
It can also be extremely disappointing to the spirit to not get to immerse, and even downright uncomfortable to come back into the many other roles and responsibilities we hold – sometimes so much that artists will use that as an excuse to not make theirr art at all, resulting in a sort of soul starvation that can inevitably take its toll on their entire quality of life.
I have certainly withheld myself from my art-making over that seeming tension between that altered state of the creative zone and ‘real’ life.
So having palpable ways and ideas to shift from the creative-consciousness flow (or into it), can be extremely helpful in easing the transition and ensuring our return to the practices that ultimately fill us up for all the ways we show up and open up to love and expression in life.
One way I practice this in art-making is something I have come to call “palette pages.”
One approach to palette pages is to use up all of the extra paint on my palette after a session – on an entirely different page or painting. Preferably one that has no intention or focus at all. Just a free-flow movement of color, purely for the spontaneity.
Sometimes I will create layers for backgrounds that I will use later. Other times – I will create an intuitive gesture paint-sketch, in a timed activity, like in the video below.
It is one of my favorite ways to loosen up and shake my focus out of the worlds conjured in my practice and into this one, for whatever is next on my life agenda or to-do list.
Just 5 minutes, a blank page in my moleskine, and some extra palette paint that needed to be cleaned up or thrown out anyway – and the transition is gentler and more integrated, practical yet still tapped into spontaneous, honest response. [the video is sped up and only a couple minutes long, to just give you an idea of how simple this can be]
This type of simple, free-flow visual activity is great for beginning a session, too – to get the energy moving with a little warm-up.
It is a nice shift for a writing practice, too – take a break from those words for 5 minutes of color moving on the page.
Sometimes, I will even do this in those moments when I am starting to feel heavy or stuck in another piece. Taking a moment to totally shift my attention can help me see more clearly what is being asked of me on the other page. I don’t recommend this as a way to avoid discomfort that may be important to be with and move through – but rather more like a colorful interlude to re-open the channels, like stepping outside for a breath of fresh air or short walk before diving in to deal with what wants to come through in the piece that is the main focus of your session.
Another way to create palette pages is to use a page in one of your journals as your actual palette for a session. Then once you’re done, smear the remaining paint colors around on the page – and you have a background rich with colors and textures for future captures and visual or word play (a great way to ensure easy sessions on days when the blank page is just too daunting).
How do you transition into or out of your creative practice zone in a way that shifts the focus, but honors all of the creativity and expression you’ve called forth and let flow? You know, when you have to stop your practice to go pick up the kids, go to work, pay the bills or make dinner?
Share if you’d like – I’m sure several of us would love to add some new ideas to our holistic creative practice.
Your creative practice can become an intense and powerful place of consciousness – even in moments that look and feel like ordinary play. So, look for ways in your practice to make transitions gentle, practical and grounding.