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Friday, 27 February 2015

A busy week - but advice from the studio - involving the unconscious mind

I t has been a very busy week - but I thought I would briefly post some advice from fine art studio practice that might help with blogging.

A fine artist goes to the studio as a place to work, like a performance space it is a dedicated place for thinking and creating - trying out new things and then building those ideas into a more cohesive unit that you can then present or share with others.

One trick for studio artists in that space is to put up images on the walls to look at - one's own images or inspirational images - and when you go into that space to sit with these images for a while in order to put the mind and body in the place they need to be to 'think'. Sound familiar? It is a process to get 'in the zone' and to concentrate the mind in order that the unconscious mind can become involved. I have nicknamed this process as 'calling the muses' to help with the thinking. Often this involves a cup of tea or coffee to stimulate concentration but not always. You can be very alert or very tired, and that is when the muses come to help you to think and create.

While Tom and I were chatting last night, I found myself saying that this studio trick of getting in the zone might be a useful technique to try when blogging. We often come in from a busy work schedule and cannot 'think' about what to say in relation to the coursework. We are not 'there' for that because our mind is concentrating on other things - schedules - catching up with friends - emails for work - shopping - entertainment...

However, we could think about the time on the computer like going into the studio.  If you have a 'studio' session for blogging - you could allow yourself a bit of time to get into the zone before feeling the 'pressure' of creating something on your blog. So this would mean adding a step to your process. It would mean coming into the virtual space (web) and looking around, reading - looking at images - looking at some short audio-visual  - even audio (I have iTunes) when driving around the space. So it means treating this initial time like studio time when you are purposefully getting into the zone to involve the unconscious mind in the proceedings.

So if we consciously build this time to get into the zone into the process - but mindfully then focus back on producing things for the blogs (or journals or mood boards etc.) this might be the best of both worlds and produce some marvellous things that were not apparent in the first instance - so ways to capture our thinking using practice-based methods.

I am also thinking here of some recent coursework that Jodie - now in Module 1 - used as examples in her Areas of Learning where she showed short films of her performance rehearsals (up on YouTube permission asked to share link that show the process of people working out ideas and choreography. So that preparation time - that rehearsal time - might be a way to think about the zone. I usually know when I have reached it - because I can tell I am concentrated - and ideas flow. Daisuke talked about this flow in his final inquiry. See his archived blog

I once asked one of my art tutors the question that if we created something using the 'unconscious mind' would that still be considered a conscious creation? He said yes, so every since then I have felt the freedom to allow myself access to the unconscious for arts practice. I suppose here I am really passing that freedom onto you - but in a different time and place.


  1. This is really good advice, thank you!
    I often find that it's when I'm at my busiest generally that I have the most creative thought processes - maybe the fact that my conscious mind is so occupied means my unconscious mind can get going as well? When I'm not busy (which is hardly ever!) it feels like everything switches off and I end up in this dull, uncreative, unproductive torpor! It's good advice to take some time to focus on one thing, though I don't think my brain can work that way!

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  3. sorry I deleted my previous comment as the link was too long. Here it is again: I agree with the need to get into the zone and that amazing feeling when ideas just flow effortlessly. I personally find Yoga also helps me to become relaxed and focused and have recently stopped trying to multitask as I find it very stressful. Focusing on one thing intensily at a time suits me much better. I have recently spoken to a lot of overworked professionals from various disciplines and started questioning the work ethos in the UK compared to other countries. Thereby I came across this article on a 6 work day experiment in Sweden which might be interesting to read as unsurprisingly more work doesn't mean more results.

  4. Dani haha it is capturing those moments of lucidity that count - it sounds like those dull moments are when you are re-charging - which I agree is not a creative time because the battery light is blinking but the output is low - so maybe after a re-charge?
    Lara yes interesting take on solutions for work life balance - and the ways most portfolio artists work - productivity a top issue for working time - your link - brings up the point that over-work can lead to lack of focus - wow - yes - does it link in with re-charging? certainly leads to a lot of issues that could come into some of the inquiries e.g.
    Both comment could help explain the context in which you are working - reality speaking - and related to social/work/cultural phenomena!

  5. Paula, this is really valuable advice and is an area that can be defiantly overlooked.
    It is especially relevant for myself on this course I am often doing many different jobs and tasks that aren't related to the coursework and it takes a big shift in my mind to get into that headspace. I will try what you mentioned above and see if it is any easier. Thank you!

  6. Thank you Paula, this is exactly what I needed to read to get me started! I have a tendency to over-think generally everything so I'm looking to try this as a new approach.

  7. This is a great way for me to work!!! After teaching most days and evenings and running around after the kids......looking at things to "get in the zone" will work for me. I often think half way through a class that I wish I could pause the day to blog/note down what has been happening. Maybe that getting in the zone and reflecting time will be a positive step towards my learning.

  8. This is cool I'm going to try it in rehearsal. I have been exploring mindfulness with my actors as a way of getting them into the space and away from the rest of their day. It works to some extent - some people are very receptive and others look at me like I'm a crazy hippy! What has been more useful is the mini TED talks I've been attempting to do at the start of each rehearsal. I read a bit of an article or talk about something I've seen and then the group discuss together or personally reflect and record their thoughts - I think stimulating the thinking process in a way that doesn't feel too important helps to focus everyone. If you go straight into the rehearsal people get quite panicky about doing things 'right' and stop the flow of ideas. I'll try the picture one next week! I have recorded some of my discussion points on my blog - I'll add more soon

    This week I used Samantha Roderick's (daughter of Anita Roderick, Bodyshop CEO) talk on 'Kindness' in the workplace.