After we had our first daughter twenty-two years ago, I still worked full-time and quickly realized that if I wanted to continue this creative life I would have to figure out a way to utilize the short number of hours I had every week to paint, and to utilize them well. The thing that I noticed very quickly was that I had to have some kind of plan rather than waiting for the 'muse' or I wouldn't achieve much in my allotted time.
GET UP EARLY
The first thing I did was wake up an hour earlier than everyone else to head down into my studio. It was an amazing way to begin my days...it seemed I had much more energy and was definitely more positive throughout the day, so it wasn't the sacrifice I originally believed it would be. This worked particularly well for me (and still does) as I found that I have the most energy and ideas in the morning.
The second thing I did, and still do, is to make myself a cup of herbal tea. It's great to get me hydrated first thing in the morning and while I wait for the kettle to boil I start envisioning possibilities...maybe sketching out ideas for new projects or thinking about a colour palette on the latest piece(s) I'm working on. It's good for my body and my mind.
TURN ON THE LIGHTS
When I get into my studio the first thing I do is turn on the lamps that I enjoy. I used to light a candle as well, but found that to be a bit of a dangerous practice as, once I'm working, I forget about it for long periods of time. So, now I light a salt rock. It sits beside my chair in my studio and as it warms I like to place my hand on it. It's good for my spirit.
LISTEN TO SOME MUSIC
For many years, my choice of music has leaned toward CBC Radio and almost anything related to it. I like the variety, from folk to classic to jazz, and the fact that it's often quite calm rather than frantic.
READ SOMETHING GOOD
Then I settle in my chair to read something inspiring and begin journalling and/or sketching. Typically I tend to read something like 'The Artist's Way Every Day' followed by either a gratitude list, a to-do list or just jot down creative ideas.
It's interesting to me that after all these years, these rituals tend to prime the well so to speak. These days my challenge doesn't tend to lie in not knowing what to create, but rather on focusing on one thing at a time. Not such a bad thing, I think.