I generally prefer audio books as a background in my studio. I have listened to hundreds of art histories, biographies, mysteries and true crime stories, plowing through series after series. I have always needed a bit of escapism to occupy my inner critic as I work, but lately I prefer silence.
At the beginning of quarantine when life became strange and frightening, I turned once again to meditation (and Ben & Jerry). I had exactly zero success with meditation up to this point, but during the repetitive circumstances of lockdown, I began a modest practice that began to help with my anxiety and focus.
A funny thing has happened after months of meditation. It has crept into my studio! When I am working, I often prefer silence. I am happily conscious of being in the moment and I don’t need to drown out that voice, in fact, I think I may have made friends with my inner critic. Well, more like a friendly acquaintance I chat with, and sometimes tell very nicely to shut up.
Meditation is a process that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But you could try switching up your painting soundtrack or turning it off all together. Maybe In the quiet you can have a nice polite chat with your inner critic too.
Sometimes you come across a quote that just stops you. Really, you stop and read it over a few times. Maybe you write it down in the margin of your calendar or copy and paste it into the notes section of your phone. Maybe you print it out and tack it to the cork board in your studio. You might even get those words tattooed onto your arm. Because, well, you don’t want to forget them. But you do. Sometimes those forgotten words keep following you, popping up again and again. This quote from John Cage is one of those for me.
I love this quote!! I find it comforting and inspiring, like a push. He vividly lists the sources of the
baggage that we bring to creating. I can see all of the people around my easel between me and the canvas. Then he reminds me how to get past it, telling me to keep painting and get out of the way and sometimes I listen.