Something’s been puzzling me for a while.
I crave other stimulation when I paint.
Specifically I seem to need something to occupy my brain’s language centres (that live in the left hemisphere of the brain).
If I try to paint in silence, though I can still paint, there isn’t the same joy or flow to it.
It becomes less ‘automatic’ and my thought chatter tries to get involved and start analysing what I’m doing – killing the flow.
So I’ve learned to distract that left bit of my brain with something immersive such as talk radio or interesting audio book.
But I have to admit, if you promise not to tell,…
the absolute best distraction is…
listening to ‘The Archers’.
**blushes with embarrassment**
For those of you not in the UK, The Archers is a long-running (since 1951) BBC radio soap opera set in a farming community in the midlands.
There’s an hour and a half of it’s glorious distraction every week.
It’s not at all cool.
Friends have ridiculed me.
So it’s definitely my guilty pleasure.
But it produces my best work!
I feel like I should be in a meditative, completely ‘present’ state….or at the very least listening to classical music when I paint.
But the truth is that for a joyful painting experience, where I feel ‘in the flow’, I seem to need the mental distraction that soap opera’s best at!
What’s it all about? Flow.
Betty Edwards in her book ‘Color’, describes the shift to the visual-perceptual right-brain mode of consciousness needed to perceive the relationships of colours required for painting as being the same as a shift into flow, or being in the ‘zone’:
Entering the ‘zone’ while playing a sport, for example, is described as a loss of the sense of time passing, intense concentration on the task, and a difficult or even inability to use language’