Dear Allyson,
I’m a musician with a physical disability. Due to extreme fatigue, my creative time of deep concentration is limited to 3 hours per week max.  I believe my creative work is progressing, but I think I need some input about my process. I do commit time to working on my mental attitude utilizing prayer/meditation.

Thanks,
Stefan Rijkse


Dear Stefan,

Thanks so much for writing and sharing deeply about your creative life and struggle.

Focus on your task of that moment. Keep your mind from straying to the future or the past. Twenty minutes at a time would be plenty if your materials are ready at hand.

Keep your materials basic: a sketch book, illustration or bristol board, colored pencils or pens. Make sure there is wonderful calming music that you love.

If you can assure isolation for those twenty minutes it would be a gift, but if not, perhaps ear plugs would allow your mind to go within.

For the most part, however, your job is not to block anything out but rather to open all of your “channels” — your ears and your inner eyes — and allow yourself to receive the symphony.

Then, look at the surface on which you will be working and think about what would give you joy. With so little time, cultivate as much joy in the moment as possible.

Think of it as your art making as a spiritual practice.
When I started meditating, I started with a few minutes. I timed myself and got to feel how a few minutes of inner quiet felt. Then I tried five minutes.

Be sure you love your materials. Would you prefer working on a smooth surface or a rough surface?
Canvas has motion and stretch when you paint on it. If you prefer an unmoving surface, try paper on a board or paint on a board itself.

Here are the materials I choose when I only have a short time to work and a few items I just can’t go anywhere without:
I order them from Dick Blick. dickblick.com

Arches Watercolor block — pink — 7″ x 10″ (hot press)
Watercolor 24-Half Pan Set — I use Schminke but Winsor Newton has good kits that are cheaper.
Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes — #000, #0, #2, #6 (series 7 is expensive and Kominsky makes cheaper decent brushes)
Sketch book — 6 X 9 or larger
Pencils  — #2B, #4B, #6B, #HB
Kneadable eraser
Exacto Knife

Alex adds that our friend, Randall Roberts (look up his artwork online — it’s astonishing), says that he tries to say a prayer or a mantra with every stroke. Staying conscious and in the moment when working on your art weaves devotional energy that can enrich and enhance the work and your experience immeasurably.

Also, a recent book Healing Through Art by friends Mary Lane and Michael Samuels might interest you. Nursing Professor, Mary Lane, initiated the extraordinary Art as Healing department at the University of Florida Medical School with the help of our spiritual teacher, Mickey Singer.
Healing love,

Allyson and Alex


Hi Allyson and Alex,
So, I bought some new materials, the Schmincke 24 half pan set, the series 7 Winsor Newton brushes and Arches paper. With these great materials I felt like I had total control over what I was making. I did five watercolors then I picked the best one to send along to you.

I was familiar with some works by Randal Roberts, but I went to his website to see all of his stuff up there. “Akashic Kiss” was my favorite. Saying the prayer word with every brush stroke worked well. I compared two drawings and the one where I said the prayer words with the strokes had stronger lines.

I felt like your advice was like a perfect art prescription cuz it was spot on.

Have a good week,

Stefan

Stefan Rijkse - Trinity (2013)

New work by Stefan Rijkse