Saturday, 26 June 2010

Flow Zone, Music and Speed

Following a recent conversation about the feelings involved when painting, with David Moxon:

The discussion we had was about the sensation of speed when painting, that was akin to driving a formula one car (imagined you understand - we have never been behind the wheel of one!).  The sense is that there are so many decisions being made with such a fine tuned machina that the slightest error feels loaded with risk. It is addictive like an extreme sport and actively affects material - the painting, mind, body and soul. The sensation of speed rises to the point where/when the decisions are made unconsciously.  When things become more contemplative, designed and slower there is a feeling of having time traveled. As you pop out of this accelerated state of mind there is the jolt of feeling time has flown by, that hours have passed since you started work and yet the passage of time has felt fractions of what the clock now tells you. This is not escapism as in this engagement you are confronted intensely with oneself in the world. This is not unique to painting. What is,is the record of this time. This state was named flow by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.

Leslie Wayne in his statement for the current show at Jack Shainman in New York writes about this 'letting go'. "The series was inspired by an article in the New Yorker entitled “The Eureka Hunt” (July 28, 2008), describing a situation in which a fire fighter’s instinct saved his life. The article articulated an interesting condition of mental acuity, which is not unlike that of an artist and their studio practice in a moment of inspiration. Noting that artists often try to achieve a state of grace - of “letting go” or “getting in the zone” - by listening to music, listening to music became a driving principle behind the development of these paintings, and ultimately a condition of their creation."

I no longer listen to music when I paint as I have found it keeps me out of this zone and away from the difficult places acting as a tie to the 'outside time'. The painting is not illustrative but a reality. It doesn't magically communicate these thoughts although it is a document and a testament to the activity and the passage of time.

1 comment:

  1. There is a concern here that we can sound like a bunch of Futurist 'boy racers'. When you are 'in the zone' during painting, there is a perceived 'speed' that feels present, at the same time you are juggling/considering the space in the painting, its surface, colour, application of paint etc, this adds to a heightened sense of being in the moment, but perhaps it is a masculine interpretation we have arrived at..