3 Ways I Prepare for Painting

You might think that painting is a low effort minimal mental fatigue experience. What if I told you that wasn’t the case? What if I told you that it’s actually critical for an artist to mentally prepare themselves for starting a new piece?

Think back to your art classes in junior high and high school. I think this is the time where art started to become difficult. You were learning new techniques, being challenged, and it was evident who enjoyed art class and who did not. Learning those new techniques and skills took a lot of mental effort! You were problem solving in a way that was subjective to you! 

Now consider an artist who is producing large bodies of work. Most artists have developed and maybe even mastered their skills and techniques, but this doesn’t mean they still don’t need to problem solve and overcome mental barriers. I can’t speak for the millions of artists around the globe, but below are 3 ways I mentally prepare before starting a new painting. 

field of flowers
  1. Mental Rehearsal - I Imagine myself painting the actual painting! Sounds bizarre but it works. This especially helps when I know I have a complex painting that will require me to paint out of my comfort zone. So what do I do? The moment I get the new canvas for the painting I’m thinking about the painting, and when I say thinking about it I mean obsessing over it. I think about the composition, the colors, the paint going on the canvas, the different values of the colors, the layers, etc. Every part of my process is prepared in my mental rehearsal including the final product! 

  1. Time and energy allocation - I’m not a full time artist therefore I am juggling my creative time and a full time job. Unfortunately, I’m also not a night owl, so painting in the evenings is usually a painful experience. It’s important for me to plan my days, weeks, and months so I can get the work I committed to done. Aside from time, I also need to consider energy allocation. I’m an introvert at heart, so when I spend my energy at work and or social events, I usually need to balance that out with resting and relaxing. I’ve recognized it’s important for me to have down time. It helps my creativity flourish and recharge my batteries to be able to put my energy into my paintings. 
paint palette
  1. Stress management and space prep - I can’t start a painting and get into the proper flow if I’m stressed about other things happening in my life. In order for me to start painting I make it a priority to brain dump anything that’s on my mind onto a sheet of paper. If there are items in my immediate control I can take care of, then I do. If there is anything that comes up that is in my control but it wouldn’t make sense for me to do at that moment, then I time box them into my week. If there’s anything that is out of my control, then I let it go! Once my mind is decluttered, I’m able to think straight and get into the right headspace for painting and creativity. 

We are all going to prepare ourselves for the creative process differently. Everything above is subjective to me and my process, but if you experience creative blocks or procrastination then I highly recommend implementing at least one of these tips.

3 Ways I Prepare for Painting
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