Flow 3


I’ve been painting on this portrait for 3 days, approaching the painting with Flow in mind.  I’ve never focused on the state I’m in before I begin to paint and to the question of whether or not what I’m feeling can predict if I’m gong to be in flow or not.  Through this experiment though, I’ve just realized how uncanny and reliable our emotions are at foretelling flow.

Csikszentmihaly describes how it feels to be in the flow on his video on Flow ( see Flow) :

  • Attention is focused on a limited stimulus field.
  • There is full concentration, complete involvement.

The first day of painting (See Flow 2) I was freely painting the local color, ignoring details, much like the child in us plays with paint.  This approach is always flow.  It’s play with color on some blank white material.  It’s focus on this paper with full concentration and complete involvement.

The second day, when I began the details, I battled the introduction of fear over painting.  It wasn’t so much a particular problem I can articulate, if felt more like an over-all pang of   panic, like “I have to get away from this”.  No way could I get into flow this way.  So, I’d paint 5-10 minutes tops, go rest till the panic subsided, and begin again.  This is not a particularly comfortable way to paint.

On the third day, (see the picture above) after convincing myself from the action I’d taken on the second day, seeing that, despite the fear, I had managed to paint some really good detail, I relaxed, and the painting flowed again.

My take-away from this exercise is that, in order to foster flow, I need to take the next best step, no matter how hard it may seem.  Out of each step, clear goals produce the next step.    There is immediate feedback to the action we’ve taken, so we know our next step.

In flow, there is a balance between challenges and skills (see Flow).  It’s inevitable that there will be challenges when we paint (unless we’re coloring inside a coloring book).  So, the challenge becomes the opportunity to let go and surrender to receive the answer, which brings us to another dimension of Flow:

Self-consciousness Disappears.

And we become One with God.

Thank you for reading my blogs, Doretta.

One thought on “Flow 3

  1. Hi, Doretta. I am amazed at your process, and I love how you paint, take breaks, and then write about your process. The painting is coming along beautifully. One of the best things about it is that you are opening your heart and letting us see who you are. I love what I see. The thought occurs to me that your process is the same as living life. “…seeing that, despite the fear, I had managed to paint some really good detail, I relaxed, and the painting flowed again.” From the standpoint of life, is it true that, “seeing that, despite the fear, I have managed to accomplish good things in life, so I relax, and life flows again”?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s