In this blog post I am going to cover a big subject about why I feel it is important to read, study, and reflect on a daily basis. Implementing this habit has taken me over a year to figure out.
If you are interested in some of the back-of-house practices I use to keep inspired, please read on.
A GIFT FROM A FRIEND
Last year (2014), my dear friend, Suzanne Lago Arthur, gave me three books that began to change my daily habits as a creative professional.
These books were:
.Manage Your Day-to-Day
.The Accidental Creative
.Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
Each book motivated me to reconsider how I organized my days, weeks, and longer term goals.
Manage Your Day-to-Day, was helpful in realizing I needed to make a change. It is full of essays that motivated me to seek out solutions of productivity and organization.
Armed with the goal to seek some solutions, I was influenced by the thoughtful and habit-forming ideas of the The Accidental Creative and Die Empty that helped me really turn around my practices.
Initially, I focused on the exercises that helped me define a vision for my art career, and then I began to implement ways to accomplish it, which led me to establish my 2015 new year’s resolutions.
In the The Accidental Creative, the creative rhythm is broken down into discernible categories, and in going through the book and looking at my life in 2014, I realized I had focus (I am a floral still-life painter who paints from life in natural light) but I was seriously lacking in energy (I was sleep deprived and suffering from constant low-level asthma attacks) and stimuli (I had not read a serious art book since Naomi was born in 2011). So going into 2015, I resolved to re-structure my creative rhythm and feed it as well.
The main take away from the book Die Empty was that I needed to find a way to step out of my comfort zone and to daily take time to recharge and refocus my efforts.
IMPLEMENTING A MORNING RITUAL
Staring this year (2015) I have made an effort to develop a morning ritual, and in the last eight months I have tried different times and focus activities, which would typically falter after 3-6 weeks. Each time I included time for reading and note taking, but my note taking method kept failing to engage until I came across this blog post about creating a commonplace book system using index cards.
Previously my morning ritual would fail because I would get discouraged. My method of taking notes has always been to put them in a bound notebook, but this gets difficult because I like to jump around on the books I am reading and I like keeping my notes in one place. Using the index cards and dividing my notes into a series of topics and subcategories, I have been able to organize the ideas and thoughts I read every morning during my morning ritual.
MY MORNING RITUAL
My ritual as of this moment in time is this: wake up, make a pot of tea, sit and reflect for the time that my tea steeps, pour a cup of tea and dive into my reading for the day. I spend about 30-60 minutes reading and taking notes before Naomi wakes up. And before I get out of bed, I also take 5-10 minutes to think about my day in chunks of time, mapping out what I can reasonably accomplish.
Currently I skip around on the books I am reading, I like to spend 2-3 days each week on my three areas of focus: Art Theory, Art Technique, and Self-improvement. The books I am currently reading are:
1. Harold Speed’s books, the Practice and Science of Drawing, and Oil Painting Techniques. This is the third time I am reading them and this time I feel like I am capturing the big ideas in a way that I can quickly review my thoughts and important points.
2. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Selected Readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger. I want to get very grounded in the classical and humanist views of art, because I am a representational artist and I value the world view of classical and renaissance artists, I want to understand the philosophies that inspired them.
3. Writing To Learn by William Zinsser. I am fascinated with the idea of how writing can help you learn a subject in greater depth than just reading. My thought is that this book may improve my note taking skills some more.
Having a morning ritual has energized my attitude towards my painting; I am exploring new ideas and expanding my understanding about the how and why I create art. This is why I believe it is important to find time for study and reflection in your daily life.