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.
Many creative individuals 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 and what triggers they use to get into their rhythm.
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.
Henri Matisse, who 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.
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.
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.”
What habits and rituals do you perform?