Every creative person chooses a different path to follow their muse. If you use any practices to get yourself into the rhythm of your artistic process, you might enjoy this article about the rituals and routines of artists. You may discover some similar patterns that emerge in the lives of these artists.
They rely on habits and rituals to activate their senses, elevate their moods, and clear their minds. It may be as simple as waking up at sunrise, drinking three cups of coffee, taking a jog in the park, or reciting affirmations. Their actions impact their psyche and influence their creative productivity. By reading about artists’ rituals we learn another aspect of their creative process.
Henri Matisse had a long and prolific career, never stopped working, even when he was forced to create his “cut-outs” from a wheelchair. With a pair of tailor scissors he cut sheets of paper that had been painted with gouache and often crayon, into various shapes and sizes. His daily routine consisted of three hours of morning work, breaking for lunch, followed by a nap, and then working from 2:00 until the evening. He even worked on Sundays.
Georgia O’Keeffe told an interviewer in 1966 “I like to get up when the dawn comes. The dogs start talking to me and I like to make a fire and maybe some tea and then sit in bed and watch the sun come up. The morning is the best time, there are no people around. My pleasant disposition likes the world with nobody in it.” After breakfast at 7:00 AM, O’Keeffe would then work in her studio for the rest of the day. Her last meal of the day was a light supper at 4:30 PM, followed by an evening drive through her beloved countryside.
Pablo Picasso would often go to bed late and wake up late. He would arrive at his studio in the early afternoon and work until dusk, often standing for several hours in front of his canvas. The artist stated, “While I work I leave my body outside the door, the way Muslims take off their shoes before entering a mosque.”
Joan Miro was challenged with bouts of depression his entire life, so in order to raise his serotonin level he would begin the day with rigorous exercise at 6:00. The artist would be found either running along the beach or exercising in the gym. Then, he would work in the studio until 12:00. He took a 5 minute afternoon nap which he referred to as “Mediterranean yoga”. Then, after tending to his business affairs, he would return to the studio and work until dinner at 8:00.
Famous German artist, Gerhard Richter, whose art sells for millions of dollars, has had the same basic routine he has for years. According to an article at http://www.onlinecollege.org, He wakes at 6:15 and makes breakfast for his family, then takes his daughter to school. By 8:00 he is in his studio, where he stays until lunch at 1:00. After lunch, he returns to this studio until the evening. He claims that his days are not usually filled with painting, but with the planning of his pieces. He puts off the actual painting until he has created a kind of crisis for himself, then pours himself into it.
Joseph Campbell’s Thoughts About Rituals
You might wonder, are routines and rituals important? To answer this question I refer to Joseph Campbell, the famous American mythologist and writer who often spoke about the integral and essential nature of ritual in society. He explained, “A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow.”
As an artist, I would methodically stretch the canvas, open my box of paints, and select my brushes, as I envisioned the subject I would bring to fruition. But, before I squeezed the first tube of oil paint onto the palette, I selected the music. It was always classical and uplifting, like “Mozart in Love”. Music gave me the freedom to wander into another dimension. Periodically I would take breaks from the easel to ballet around the room. Now, as a writer, I begin the day with gratitude affirmations, lemon and water, a light breakfast — perhaps a vegetable smoothie, schedule client appointments, and then write, write, write in between consultations. I take breaks every 45 minutes to dance, do high-intensity interval training, and aerobics.
What habits and rituals do you perform?